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US pushing for new law against LRA

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The leader of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army rebels Joseph Kony (in white). The army says his group is weakened, with 200 to 250 fighters scattered around Congo and Central Africa. Photo/REUTERS

The leader of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army rebels Joseph Kony (in white). The army says his group is weakened, with 200 to 250 fighters scattered around Congo and Central Africa. Photo/REUTERS 

By HALIMA ABDALLAH

Posted  Monday, March 1   2010 at  00:00
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American legislators are pushing for a law that will see another phase of military action to apprehend Lord’s Resistance Army rebels.

The new move seems to go against media campaigns by the Ugandan army advising remnants of the rebel group to surrender.

“Military action should have come way back in 2003 (at the peak of LRA brutality). Many lives would have been saved in Sudan, DR Congo and Uganda,” said Uganda army spokesman Lt Col Felix Kulaigye in an interview with The EastAfrican.

“For now, our main emphasis is not combat operations. It is media operations to encourage those who want to come out to do so,” Lt. Col Kulaigye said in a separate interview.

The UPDF is using radio messages through Okapi in DRC, the UN radio, a radio in Sudan and Mega FM in Gulu to appeal to rebels to come out and take advantage of a general amnesty.

But the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Bill 2009, requires the US government to develop a new multifaceted strategy to end the LRA’s continuing terror across Central Africa, and lasting peace in northern Uganda.

Already, the proposed legislation is enjoying growing support from non governmental organisation and civil society groups globally.

In the Senate, the level at which the Bill is currently, it has 50 per cent of the support, according to the Congressional Research Service.

This makes it the first Bill specifically on sub Saharan Africa to have this many co-sponsors since 1973.

The US embassy in Kampala declined to comment when asked why the Bill is coming now and not earlier.

“There is growing support for UPDF, but generally we do not comment until a Bill is passed because, along the way, there could be changes,” said US embassy public affairs officer Joann Lockard.

It will not be the first time the US government is providing support to the Uganda army in fighting LRA.

The US has been backing UPDF with logistics and training to fight the rebel group.

Other support areas include human rights, and the UPDF mission in Somalia.

In December 2008, the US government supported Operation Lightening Thunder.

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