For once, the Lord’s Resistance Army has found a point of agreement with the Congolese and Ugandan armies: that Human Rights Watch is wrong.
HRW came out with a report two days ago that says 321 people were killed and and 250 abducted by the LRA in a remote area in northeastern Congo. In response, the Ugandan army spokesperson said in a BBC interview yesterday that he questioned whether the attack ever happened. The people in the area are too spread out, he suggested, and it was unlikely that the LRA would be able to carry out such a massacre over a four day period. The Congolese army also questioned the veracity of the report, although the UN radio confirmed the massacre with church, political and civil society leaders. At stake, of course, is the reputation of the Ugandan and Congolese armies – both were involved in Operation Lightning Thunder in December 2008 against the LRA. Uganda later claimed that the operations had been successful.
Thanks to Anneke van Woudenberg and Ida Sawyer, the HRW researchers, for providing common ground to these rivals. Somehow I don’t think it will be enough to restart the peace talks. But it has increased pressure on the UN to keep MONUC troops in the Congo for longer and to come up with a real strategy for dealing with the LRA.
In this line, the US Senate unanimously passed the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act on March 11, 2010. If it becomes law, it will require President Barack Obama’s administration to develop a regional strategy to protect civilians in central Africa from attacks by the LRA, to work to apprehend the LRA’s leadership, and to support economic recovery for northern Uganda. The bill was sponsored by Feingold (D-Wisconsin) and Brownback (R-KS) and is currently before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, where is it being sponsored by James McGovern (D-MA).