The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has handed over a light infantry battalion of 500 soldiers to the African Union-led Regional Task Force (RTF) to eliminate the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the African bloc said in a statement on Friday.
The ceremony for the handover of the troops took place last Wednesday at Dungu, the headquarters of the RTF in the northeastern DRC, the African Union (AU) said.
Major General Amuli Bahigwa, chief of staff in charge of operations of the DRC Armed Forces (FARDC), handed over the Congolese contingent to Francisco Madeira, special envoy of the chairperson of the AU Commission responsible for the LRA issue.
The ceremony was attended by Abou Moussa, special representative of the UN secretary general and head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa, as well as other prominent figures and military officers.
The handover of the anti-LRA contingent was in line with the decision of the first ministerial meeting of the joint coordination mechanism for the elimination of the LRA, made in Addis Ababa on May 8, 2012.
In September 2012, the government of the Central African Republic (CAR) contributed 350 soldiers and South Sudan and Uganda handed over 500 soldiers and 2,000 soldiers respectively to the authority of the RTF.
With the 500 FARDC troops received, the RTF soldiers have increased to 3,350 for full operations against the LRA in Dungu Sector, besides the Sectors of Nzara in South Sudan, and Obo in C.A.R., according to the A.U. statement.
The AU has called for better coordination and more support from partners to the RTF in its bid to eliminate the LRA and assure the stability of the region.
For decades the Ugandan rebel LRA has been active across borders of Uganda, the DRC, CAR and Sudan.
It is notorious for kidnapping and mutilations.