, WASHINGTON, May 25 – US President Barack Obama has signed legislation ordering his administration to develop a strategy for battling Uganda\’s Lord\’s Resistance Army (LRA), a statement said.
The bill — which a clutch of US lawmakers had been pushing Obama to sign — hardens American commitment to end the rebels\’ "brutality and destruction," the president said in a statement late Monday.
It recognises that the United States must strengthen its ability to "protect and assist civilians caught in the LRA\’s wake, to receive those that surrender, and to support efforts to bring the LRA leadership to justice."
The LRA took up arms against the government in northern Uganda in 1988 but since 2005 moved into remote outlying areas in neighboring countries after coming under pressure from the Ugandan army.
The LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act reiterates US commitment "to work toward a comprehensive and lasting resolution" in northern Uganda and areas including northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, southern Sudan, and the Central African Republic.
Obama said the LRA\’s actions were an "affront to human dignity."
Several US lawmakers have been pushing Obama to sign the bill, demanding that his administration craft a comprehensive strategy to help regional governments disarm the LRA and protect civilians.
"Congress is committed to ending the LRA\’s reign of terror," Democratic Senator Russell Feingold, a key author of the measure, said earlier this month after the measure cleared the House of Representatives.
Human Rights Watch in March accused the LRA, whose leaders are wanted for war crimes, of massacring 321 civilians and abducting 250 others in a previously unreported "rampage" in northeastern DRC in December.
The UN mission in the DR Congo (MONUC) said its own investigation found that at least 290 people were killed and about 150 abducted. DRC officials say the estimates are exaggerated.