After years of prodding by Congress that included passing multiple pieces of legislation, the United States Government today took a major step towards ending Joseph Kony’s reign of terror on the continent of Africa.
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), the driving force behind the legislative efforts against Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), reacted to the announcement that the U.S. will deploy a small number of military advisors to Uganda to assist the Ugandan military and regional forces to pursue the LRA in the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan.
“I applaud our nation’s military for making this a priority and taking the steps outlined in our legislation that will eventually protect the children and people from Joseph Kony’s reign of terror,” said Inhofe. “I have witnessed firsthand the devastation caused by the LRA, and this will help end Kony’s heinous acts that have created a human rights crisis in Africa. We must work to bring justice to the children and victims in Uganda devastated by Kony and the LRA. I have been fervently involved in trying to prevent further abductions and murders of Ugandan children, and today’s action offers hope that the end of the LRA is in sight.”
"The deployment of military advisers is a huge step forward in the comprehensive effort to see an end to the senseless LRA violence once and for all. This news will be welcomed and applauded by the hundreds of thousands of young Americans who rallied in support of The LRA Disarmament Bill," said Ben Keesey, Executive Director of Invisible Children.
Today’s announcement is in accordance with the Inhofe-sponsored Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-172). This new effort will address the LRA threat in Central Africa while protecting the civilian population. Military advisors will provide assistance and information, but they will not engage in offensive combat operations.
The Department of Defense and the State Department have been coordinating on this plan for over a year. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates signed the Execute Order prior to leaving office, and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is now putting that plan into action.
- The LRA continues to pose a threat to the stability of Central Africa and its civilian population, with over 300,000 displaced persons across CAR, DRC and South Sudan due to the LRA.
- Today’s announcement is part of a bipartisan effort in Congress to address the LRA threat and protect the civilian population.
- The Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act requires the United States to work with multilateral partners to develop a viable path to remove Joseph Kony and disarm the LRA, while ensuring the protection of civilians. The bill authorized $10 million in funding for humanitarian assistance for communities in the DRC, South Sudan and CAR most affected by LRA attacks. It also authorized $30 million over three years for transitional justice and reconciliation to help the Ugandan government address the grievances and regional divisions that the LRA has exploited for nearly two decades.
- This was just one of many efforts by Inhofe to raise the visibility of this issue and to end the crisis in Uganda.
- In June 2011, Inhofe attached an amendment to the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC)-passed FY12 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that provides authorization to end the atrocities of Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) by requiring the U.S. Secretaries of Defense and State to submit a comprehensive strategy to ending the human rights crisis in Uganda to the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations.
- In November 2010, when U.S. Gen. Carter Ham was before the SASC for his nomination hearing to be Commander of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), Inhofe raised the issue of Kony and the LRA.
- In May 2010, Inhofe offered similar language to the FY11 NDAA. The language was eventually removed prior to final passage.
- In April 2009, Inhofe visited the DRC and spoke with President Kabila expressing the critical importance he believes the partnership formed between the DRC, Uganda, and Southern Sudan is to eradicating the LRA.
- Also in April, Inhofe, alongside Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy and actor Val Kilmer, participated in an event put on by the group Invisible Children in order to raise awareness surrounding the plight of the LRA’s child soldiers.
- In February 2006, Inhofe sponsored a bi-partisan resolution (S.Res.366) affirming the importance of increased international attention and action to what’s happening with the LRA.
- Inhofe has had 119 visits to countries in the continent of Africa, more than any other Senator in the history of the U.S. Senate.