Acholi Warn Obama on Kony
SOURCE: New Vision
By Chris Ocowun
Acholi religious leaders and a number of NGOs have cautioned American President Barack Obama against fighting Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army.
They instead advised him to support non-violent means of settling the conflict, such as negotiating with Kony.
In a two-page letter that was being circulated for signatures this week, the leaders argued that for two decades military means could not end the conflict.
They added that even the mighty Operation Lighting Thunder that was supported by the United States in 2008, could not wipe out the LRA.
They also appealed for an opportunity to have dialogue with Obama's government so they can influence the strategy.
"Military action has time and again not only failed to end the conflict, but caused it to spread into regions once immune to LRA violence, resulting in further suffering of civilians.
We therefore strongly implore you to prioritise and creatively explore non-violent actions to resolving the conflict," the letter reads.
"We, believe this is the only way to bring a lasting solution that will foster healing and reconciliation in a region of the world that longs for and deserves peace."
The letter was drafted by the acholi religious leaders' Peace Initiative (ARLPI), which is chaired by Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu Catholic Archdiocese.
The religious leaders and other organisations said in their letter that while many have lost hope of any peaceful resolution to the conflict, the reality is that the peace process which started in 2006 is responsible for the relative calm being experienced in northern Uganda.
"Sadly after achieving such a significant outcome and ignoring the complexity of the LRA concerns and issues, the Government of Uganda lost patience in the process," they wrote.
The letter comes only days after Obama signed a law aimed at helping Uganda and its neighbors combat the LRA and mitigate the impact of the war.
He signed the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009 on Monday.
Many think the law will pave way for the US to directly participate in attacks against the LRA.
The rebel group has caused suffering to thousands of civilians in Uganda, Sudan, DR Congo and Central African Republic by killing, maiming and abducting civilians.
The next task for Obama is to develop a strategy to end the war and support re-development of the affected areas.
But the religious leaders said the Obama government should consult different stake holders in northern Uganda on the best way forward to bring an end to one of the world's longest running conflict.
Archbishop Odama told Saturday Vision that a military solution would lead to more unnecessary deaths.
"We have ever stood our ground that peace can best be achieved through dialogue, where life will not be lost," Odama said.
URL Address: http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/12/721051/acholi%20religious%20leaders