Despite a few useful recommendations and some optimistic-sounding headlines in the press, the Bangui meeting risks amounting to little if recommendations are not quickly implemented on the ground. Given the state of the regional armies involved in the fight against the LRA, it is hard to imagine that the military options proposed in the AU meeting, involving these same armies, can actually succeed.
There is no reason to believe that a regional agreement was the only thing missing in the effort against the LRA. Uganda has already concluded bilateral and multilateral agreements aimed at dealing with the LRA, but only the Ugandan army is currently engaging LRA fighters. In an agreement signed in Ngurdoto, Tanzania in September 2007, the Ugandan and Congolese presidents agreed to cooperate on the war against the LRA. A year later, Congo, Uganda, and South Sudan made agreements to jointly fight the LRA before the launch of Operation Lightning Thunder in December 2008. On June 2009, in a meeting in the Congolese city of Kisangani, the CAR army agreed to participate in the joint effort against the LRA. (The defense army chiefs at the Kisangani meeting agreed that “the current effort against the LRA had been extremely successful,” a wild overestimation given that LRA groups continued to cause violence in the region since June 2009.)
The current effort against the LRA has failed due to a lack capacity and willingness on the part of the armies facing the LRA, with the possible exception of the Ugandan army. Much has been said about the inability of the Congolese army to refrain from attacking civilians, let alone protecting them from the LRA. The South Sudanese army has been unwilling to stop LRA attacks in Western Equatoria, while the CAR army has too few troops dedicated to this mission to make a difference.