On May 24th Obama signed the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recover Act into Law. Now the administration has 180 days to develop a plan with ambitious and laudable goals: to eliminate the threat of the LRA in the region, provide civilian protection and support comprehensive reconstruction, transitional justice, and reconciliation efforts. The legislation doesn't specify an exact shape that the plan will take but commits to "political, economic, military, and intelligence support." Many people who have been affected by violence are concerned that in practice this plan might mean military support over preferred strategies and priorities. Local consultation was done by NGOs involved in advocating for the Bill (e.g. The Enough Project, Resolve, Invisible Children, etc.) however, some communities have expressed that their views were misrepresented. This is an open letter calling for consultation and non-violent solutions that a number of Ugandan organization have already signed. It has not been sent yet to provide more time for potential signatories.
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)”.
Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI)-Gulu, Uganda
What you can do:
Get any institution or organization that you are affiliated with (university, church, NGO, etc.) to sign on (preferable before June 12th). To do so email the name of the institution and country of origin to Wade Snowdon at the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative at: firstname.lastname@example.org
AND/OR Borrow language and reference this letter in your own letter to the President encouraging consultation with the affected communities here to develop the plan and to pursue non-violent over military "solutions." Need his address?
President Barak Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500