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Anti-LRA petition handed to Uganda’s parliament

November 20, 2013 (KAMPALA) - An anti-Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) petition was on Wednesday handed to Uganda’s parliament, with regional governments and the international community urged to do more to end the LRA scourge which has had a devastating effect across the Great Lakes region.

The petition, signed by over 3,500 community members from Uganda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Central Africa Republic (CAR), was handed to the speaker of Uganda’s parliament by Jolly Okot, the regional ambassador of the anti-LRA advocacy group, Invisible Children.

“Madam Speaker, we are sitting on a time bomb if we ignore the plight of these people affected by the LRA conflict; if we continue to ignore them let us not be surprised if many of them are recruited into terrorists groups”, said Okot.

The petition’s handover was attended by several local and national leaders from northern Uganda - the region most affected by the two-decade-long conflict between the LRA and the Ugandan government.

“We are appealing to the whole world to make the LRA war come to an end”, said Gilbert Olanya, a member of parliament from northern Uganda.

Parliamentary speaker Rebecca Kadaga promised to inform Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, of the petition so he can speak to his counterparts in the Great Lakes region about the need to end the LRA conflict.

The LRA was originally a Ugandan rebel group, but it has since morphed into a regional security threat, spanning across four countries in the Great Lakes region.

The rebel group was flushed out of Uganda in 2006 and has since been accused of gross human rights violations against unarmed civilians in South Sudan, DRC and the CAR.

In 2005, the International Criminal Court (ICC) indicted a number of top LRA leaders, including Joseph Kony, for crimes against humanity. None of the top rebel leaders have been arrested or faced court in The Hague, Netherlands.

In 2011, US president Barrack Obama dispatched 100 military advisers to the Great Lakes region to help the armies of Uganda, DRC, South Sudan and the CAR fight the rebels.

However, regional efforts against the LRA were disrupted in March when rebel forces took over power from CAR president Francois Bozize Bozize. The rebels then ordered Ugandan troops and other foreign armies hunting for Kony out of the country.

The petition by Invisible Children and communities in the region is meant to drum up more support for both regional governments and the international community to step in to bring the conflict to an end, and address the post-conflict needs of civilians.

(ST)