President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
June XX, 2010
RE: Open Letter to President Obama Regarding the “Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009 (S.1067/HR 2478)”
Dear President Obama,
For over two decades, the people of Northern Uganda have endured horrific violence as a result of a war between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Government of Uganda (GoU). Despite numerous attempts to bring an end to the conflict, all efforts have failed and to this day the civilian population in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Central African Republic (CAR) continues to suffer from the effects of LRA violence.
Mr. President, we are thankful for your desire for peace and justice in the world. More specifically, we are grateful to you for not ignoring the plight of the people by signing the “Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009 (S.1067/HR 2478)” into law. The potential of this historic legislation to support efforts to achieve sustainable peace, reconciliation, and meeting humanitarian needs in LRA affected regions cannot be understated and communicates that we are not forgotten.
As you and your administration begin the enormous task to develop a plan to implement the legislation, we strongly urge you to enter into consultations with regional CSO’s, NGO’s as well as grassroots leaders and their communities about the best way forward to bring an end to one of the world’s longest running conflicts.
While many have lost hope in 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. In a final attempt to end the LRA once and for all, a regional military offensive dubbed “Operation Lightning Thunder” was launched in 2008 with U.S. support. Like the numerous past military offensives launched against the LRA, this one also failed to meet its objective.
Military action has time and time 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 prioritize and creatively explore non-violent actions to resolving the conflict. 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.
Mr. President, we look forward to continued dialogue with you and your administration. May God guide and grant you and your administration wisdom as you discern how to effectively achieve the mandate of the “Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009 (S.1067/HR 2478)”.
[signature to accompany final letter with all signatories]
Archbishop John Baptist Odama
Chairman Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI)
Supporting Organisations Include:
Diocese of Kitgum, Church of Uganda-Kitgum, Uganda
Northern Uganda Diocese, Church of Uganda-Gulu, Uganda
Acholi Khadism (Muslims of Acholi)-Gulu, Uganda
Orthodox Church Acholi-Gulu, Uganda
Justice & Reconciliation Project (JRP)-Gulu, Uganda
Northern Uganda Driver’s for Prevention of HIV/AIDS and Accident Programme (NUDPHAAP)-Gulu, Uganda
Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters, JPIC – USA
St Monica’s Tailoring School-Gulu, Uganda
Peace & Development Foundation-Africa (PDF-Africa)-Gulu, Uganda
Concerned Parents Association (CPA)-Lira, Uganda
University of Winnipeg Global College-Winnipeg, Canada
Conciliation Resources (CR)
American Refugee Committee (ARC)-Gulu, Uganda
People’s Voice for Peace (PVP)-Uganda
Coalition for Peace in Africa (COPA)-Uganda
Kotido Peace Initiative (KOPEIN)-Karamoja, Uganda
John Paul II Peace & Justice Centre,-Kampala, Uganda
Celebration Community Church-Denver, CO, USA
Living With Shalom (LWS), Bunyoro-Kitara Diocese-Hoima, Uganda
Justice & Peace Comission (JPC GANAL)-Province of Gulu, Uganda
Agoro Community Development Association (ACDA)-Kitgum, Uganda