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Fierce Debate Over U.S. Bill to Support Uganda Military

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Special to the NNPA from GIN –

(GIN) – Proposed US legislation authorizing military action against the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda has come under fierce debate. Critics say the bill will serve to prop up Uganda’s government which is under fire for criminalizing homosexuality.

“While the bill funds some humanitarian aid and post-conflict justice, the primary focus is on a military strategy to ‘apprehend or otherwise remove’ LRA leaders,” noted Samar Al-Bulushi, a consultant to the International Center for Transitional Justice. Human Rights Focus, a local NGO based in northern Uganda, also opposes a military option.

In Acholiland, northern Uganda, where the ethnic Acholi people have faced both the LRA and the government’s army, the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative urged a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

“As religious leaders whose primary concern is the preservation of human life, (we) advocate for dialogue and other non-violent strategies to be employed so that long term sustainable peace may be realised.”

On Nov. 17, 2009, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, bi-partisan legislation authored by Sen. Russ Feingold and co-sponsored by some 25 other senators. It requires President Obama to develop a new strategy to confront the LRA and sets aside $10 million for humanitarian assistance in areas outside Uganda where the LRA is operating.

A recent BBC investigation reportedly uncovered evidence of a massacre in the Democratic Republic of Congo by the LRA with over 300 victims. Both the LRA and the Ugandan government dispute the findings.

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