US accused of failing to end LRA menace in Africa

(East African)A group of US human rights organisations have accused the Obama administration of doing little to end the humanitarian crisis created by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Central African Republic.

The group says the LRA continues to pose a major challenge to peace and security to countries in the region, including Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, where the army has operated previously.

These accusations come at the first anniversary of president Obama signing into law, The Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, which was hailed as a comprehensive strategy to stop atrocities perpetrated by the LRA and help affected communities rebuild their lives .

The three human rights groups: The Enough Project, Resolve and Invisible Children gave the Obama administration low marks for its efforts to end the violence and help affected communities rebuild their lives.

However, Ugandan military officials believe that the US has done what it could, that the LRA is a spent force and that it is just a matter of time before Joseph Kony and his army are finished.

Commander of Land Forces Lt. Gen. Katumba Wamala told The EastAfrican last week that while the LRA can only operate in small numbers in the Central African Republic, they are no longer a force that worries the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces.

“LRA is a spent force; they may still have the capacity to move in small groups of 10 or 20 where they are, but they can never regroup to become a significant threat to Ugandan territory,” he said.

In their latest Report Card the organisations argued that President Obama’s LRA strategy is not sufficient to address the rising LRA violence on the ground.

The LRA has committed over 100 attacks on civilians so far this year, killing dozens of people and abducting nearly 200 more.

According to Enough’s executive director John Bradshaw, President Obama pledged that his administration would lead in eliminating the threat of the LRA, and it is time the administration took robust steps to end one of the most brutal and deadly conflicts in Africa, in particular by leading efforts with governments in and outside the region to develop a more effective strategy to apprehend the group’s senior leadership.

The group further urges the Washington Administration to appoint a special envoy for Africa’s Great Lakes region with a mandate to address the LRA issue.

But when the new commander of the US Africa Command (Africom) General Carter F. Ham visited Uganda early May this year, he expressed frustrations at not being able to catch Joseph Kony and ending the LRA menace in the region.

Speaking to The EastAfrican, Gen. Ham said: “Catching Joseph Kony is still important to us. A law was passed in my country to help formulate a strategy to catch him but trying to find one man or a group in such a large area is hard.”

Gen. Ham did not mention any new funds in support of this mission, but Uganda’s Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga said in July last year there was no money for the offensive.

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