ARLPI Response to Final Briefing by Head of Special Envoy for the Lords Resistance Army-Affected Areas
JULY 16th, 2009
On July 15th, 2009, The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Lords Resistance Army-Affected Areas, Former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano, briefed the Security Council on his final observations and recommendations regarding the state of the peace process between the Government of Uganda (GoU) and the Lords Resistance Army (LRA).
As President Chissano leaves his post, we the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) would like to express our gratitude for the service which he and his team have provided since being appointed in 2006. We particularly want to acknowledge our gratitude for the multiple consultations he and his team have conducted throughout the region and are particularly grateful for his engagement with us, the religious leaders of the Sub-Acholi region.
We respect the final recommendations which President Chissano has presented to the Security Council however, as religious leaders who have always stood upon the principles of non-violence and dialogue to resolve conflicts, we have great concern regarding Chissano’s statement that, “opportunities for peaceful re-engagement with the LRA should be pursued alongside military action”, as stated in the July 15th briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Security General.
While the December, 2008 statement by the Security Council regarding Operation Lightning Thunder (OLT) which commended, “the states of the region for their increased cooperation” and welcomed “the joint efforts they have made to address the security threat posed by the LRA,”  we must also recognize that once again, the military option failed to realize it’s goal of pressuring the LRA to sign the Final Peace Agreement or apprehending Kony. Instead, we witnessed the killings of over 1000 Congolese civilians, several hundred more abducted, over 70,000 displaced as a result, and all communication cut off with the LRA.
With that being said, we do not have the confidence that any military action will bring security to the region but instead will only further destabilize the relative calm which we are experiencing.
Secondly, as in most wars this conflict has been characterized with a complete lack of trust between the conflicting parties. This can be attributed among other reasons to the involvement of the International Criminal Court (ICC), continued military action despite dialogue, continued raids and abductions by the LRA, as well as uncooperative remarks being made by stakeholders during the Juba Peace Process. We therefore ask that every effort be made to build trust and confidence between the parties so that dialogue can continue and be
fruitful. To encourage individuals to sign the Final Agreement by using the threat of violence brings into question the legitimacy of intentions in resolving the conflict and therefore is not conducive to sustainable peace. Instead conflicting parties must enter into an agreement voluntarily with a commitment to the rebuilding of relationships.
We therefore call for the patience of all stakeholders and for continued attempts for dialogue to be made so as to avoid further bloodshed in the region. As this conflict has been ongoing for over two decades, we understand that the time required to bring an end to the conflict will also be long. We must learn from the wisdom of previous attempts to resolve this conflict and acknowledge that only dialogue is responsible to the relative calm we are experiencing in the region.
Military action also puts in danger the lives of our sons and daughters who have been abducted by the LRA in Uganda, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Central African Republic. We have been praying day and night in solidarity with those who have lost their loved ones and fear that we may never realize the safe return of these silent victims if military action is to be taken.
We would also like to echo the words of the Resident District Commissioner of Gulu (RDC), Col. Walter Ochora and the Deputy RDC of Kitgum, Mr. Sylvester Opira, and express our grave concern over the situation in the Sudan, Central African Republic, and especially Democratic Republic of Congo. We wholly condemn attacks on the civilian population and plea with the LRA and any other destabilizing force to end violent tactics and pursue a peaceful resolution to the conflict. They are innocent victims who have no stake in this war.
In conclusion, we the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) strongly oppose the use of military action to pursue and end to the conflict in the region. Time and again the military option has failed and the civilian population has been left to suffer. We therefore plead with all stakeholders to act with patience and creatively pursue non-violent mechanisms to bring an end to the affliction of the people throughout the region.
Archbishop John Baptist Odama-ARLPI Chairman
Al Hajji Sheik Musa Khalil-ARLPI Vice-Chairman
Rt. Rev. Bishop Nelson Onono-ARLPI Founding Chair, Chairman Finance Committee
Rt. Rev. Bishop Benjamin Ojwang- ARLPI Core Team Member, Kitgum Diocese
Rt. Rev. Bishop Macleord Baker Ochola II- ARLPI Founding Core Team Member
Fr. Julius Orach-ARLPI Core Team Member, Chairman Welfare Committee
Bishop Sabino Odoki-ARLPI Treasurer & Core Team Member
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