, WASHINGTON, May 14 – US lawmakers called on President Barack Obama Thursday to quickly sign legislation mandating his administration develop a strategy for battling Uganda\’s rebel Lord\’s Resistance Army (LRA).
"Congress is committed to ending the LRA\’s reign of terror," said Democratic Senator Russell Feingold, a key author of the measure, which cleared the House of Representatives late Wednesday.
"I urge President Obama to sign this bill into law and quickly develop a plan to stop Joseph Kony and the LRA from committing further atrocities by bringing a lasting resolution to this conflict," he said, citing the group\’s leader.
The legislation demands the Obama administration craft a comprehensive strategy to help regional governments disarm the LRA and protect civilians, and calls for increased humanitarian aid to those affected by the conflict.
"We must continue to work for a lasting peace. I am hopeful that the president acts quickly to sign this bill into law," said Republican Senator Sam Brownback.
The LRA took up arms against the government in northern Uganda in 1988 but since 2005 moved into remote areas of Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, and Sudan, after coming under pressure from the Ugandan army.
"The removal of Kony and his top leadership would decapitate this group. This legislation ensures US leadership in making that happen. The day can\’t come soon enough," said Republican representative Ed Royce.
Human Rights Watch in March accused the group, whose leaders are wanted for war crimes, of massacring 321 civilians and abducting 250 others in a previously unreported four-day "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.
"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," said Democratic Representative Jim McGovern.