MAY 16, 2010: U.S Congress Wants Law On LRA Rebels

U.S Congress Wants Law On LRA Rebels
SOURCE: The New Vision
By Milton Olupot

Kampala — US legislators behind the bill for a strategy to confront the Lord's Resistance Army rebels are calling on President Barack Obama to quickly sign it into law.

They also want the US president to make a personal commitment to end the ongoing bloodshed by the rebels.

The LRA, Africa's longest running rebel group, is responsible for countless atrocities in northern Uganda and neighbouring countries.

For over two decades, the rebels have terrorised civilians, resulting in the displacement of over two million people.

They were pushed out of Uganda by the UPDF in recent years, but continue to wreak havoc in the border region of north-eastern Congo, southern Sudan and in the Central African Republic.

The Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, introduced by senators Russ Feingold, Sam Brownback, James Inhofe, Jim McGovern and Ed Royce, requires the US government to develop a new inter-agency strategy to assist regional governments in disarming the LRA, while ensuring protection of civilians.

A statement issued by Senator Feingold said the legislation was co-sponsored by 201 members of the House of Representatives and 65 members of the Senate, making it the most widely co-sponsored Africa-specific bill in recent US history.

"Passing this bill, with historic bi-partisan support, shows that the Congress is committed to ending the LRA's reign of terror," Feingold said.

"I urge president Obama to sign it into law and quickly develop a plan to stop Joseph Kony and his rebel army from committing further atrocities."

The Act also provides for increased humanitarian assistance for communities affected by the LRA brutality. It also authorises US to assist in justice and reconciliation efforts. 

Senator Inhofe observed: "This Bill will help protect the children and people from Joseph Kony's reign of terror. I have witnessed first-hand the devastation caused by the LRA. Now we are offering hope as this bill mandates the development of strategies to apprehend him and other top LRA leaders."

Representative Jim McGovern said: "It is crucial that the United States commit to a proactive strategy to help bring this conflict to an end and to strengthen humanitarian assistance. The Bill is a tribute to the thousands of activists who have dedicated themselves to this cause."

"The removal of Kony and his top leadership would decapitate this group. The day can't come soon enough," Ed Royce, a former Africa subcommittee chairman, added.