At least Ninety-five members of the U.S. Congress have signed a bipartisan letter to President Barack Obama, urging him to address the violence of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Central Africa.
A statement from Invisible Children says the number of signatories is expected to exceed 100 in the course of the day on Monday.
Representatives Jim McGovern and Ed Royce, and Senators Jim Inhofe and Mary Landrieu sponsored the letter, which will be delivered to the President this week.
Last week Invisible Children, a non-governmental organization pushing for a permanent end to the LRA conflict, launched a grassroots advocacy campaign, urging American activists to contact their representatives and ask them to sign on to the letter to the President. Invisible Children activists aimed to secure 100 signatures from members of Congress.
Codenamed #ZeroLRA, the campaign seeks to ensure that U.S. efforts to assist in ending LRA violence are sustained “until all indicted LRA commanders are stopped from roaming freely and abducting children from their homes. Top LRA commanders including leader Joseph Kony, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen are on the wanted list of the International Criminal Court (ICC). But they remain at large, operating between DRC, Sudan and Central African Republic.
The Ugandan army with the support from US have sustained pressure on the LRA with some significant positive results on the ground. According to Invisible Children, killings by the LRA have decreased by 67% in the past year and LRA defections have dramatically increased.
The NGO says some top officials in the Obama Administration and in the Congress have recently been considering a reduction in U.S. efforts to address the LRA crisis, due to budget constraints and the takeover of government by Seleka rebels in the Central African Republic (CAR).
Activists behind the #zeroLRA campaign argue that a reduction of the U.S support to regional counter-LRA efforts would have expose communities in the DRC and CAR vulnerable to LRA reprisal attacks, and giving Kony the opportunity to rebuild his fighting force through new abductions.
Earlier this year, more than a dozen local civil society leaders from LRA-affected communities in CAR drafted individual handwritten letters and issued a joint statement, urging the U.S. and Ugandan governments not to scale back their counter-LRA efforts in the region.
Last week Invisible Children petitioned the East African Legislative Assembly in Arusha asking it to make a fresh study of the continued LRA atrocities in the region and send a fact finding mission to the LRA affected communities in northern Uganda, DRC and CAR.
In May 2009, the U.S. Congress unanimously passed the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act.
The legislation reiterates the U.S. commitment to seek a comprehensive and lasting resolution to the conflict in northern Uganda and other affected areas, including northeastern DRC, South Sudan, and CAR. It also required US President Barack Obama to develop a comprehensive, multilateral strategy to
address the LRA conflict.
In October 2011, as part of his comprehensive LRA strategy, Obama authorized the deployment of 100 combat-equipped U.S. forces to provide assistance to regional forces that are working toward the removal of Joseph Kony from the battlefield.