22 US congress representatives have signed a letter urging President Barrack Obama to further extend the stay of 100 US soldiers hunting down fighters of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
The letter observes that if the U.S. advisor mission is ended or weakened before the LRA rebel leader Joseph Kony is arrested, or before dismantling the rebel group, violent attacks could escalate especially in areas where the LRA is still operational.
The United States military advisors were sent to the central Africa region in late 2011 to assist the regional African Union Mission to end LRA violence and arrest Joseph Kony, where they remain to date.
Their deployment followed the passing of the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act legislation by the US Congress. Every six months, the President and a team of his high-level advisors review the advisor mission and decide whether to end it, modify it, or to extend it for an additional six months. This August, the advisor mission is up for review once again.
After years of extension, fear is rife in the Invisible Children’s circle, the leading counter LRA advocacy group that the US President might in August halt the mission.
With just a week to the month of August, Representatives Jim McGovern and Ed Royce, who have been long-time champions on the LRA issue from Washington, have written a letter to President Obama encouraging him to recommit the U.S. advisors to this mission so that they accomplish its objective.
The letter was introduced to Congress on Monday, and will be delivered to President Obama in one week, according to a statement the Invisible Children posted on its website today.
The letter argues that “we’ve never been closer to seeing a permanent end to LRA violence – but we haven’t crossed the finish line just yet, and it’s critically important that the advisors continue their efforts”.
The non-governmental organization famous for the KONY2012 video that went viral across the globe, says within the next remaining four days, getting many representatives as possible to sign in support of the call for extension, will swing the pendulum positively in influencing President Obama’s hands when he finally receives the letter, this Friday.
The organization says the U.S. advisors have played an incredibly significant role in supporting and coordinating efforts between the different African Union forces working to dismantle the LRA, protect civilians, and arrest the LRA’s top leadership.
“Since the start of the US advisor mission, we’ve seen very encouraging evidence that their efforts are having a strong, positive impact in the region. Over the past three years, we’ve seen a 91% reduction in LRA killings and 67% reduction in abductions by the LRA. Peaceful defections of LRA fighters have increased, and several top LRA leaders have been removed from the battlefield”, the statement reads in part.