A law that will allow the Barack Obama administration to consider direct action against Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, including a lethal strike has been unanimously passed in America.
The LRA is on the US list of terrorist organisations and has been the subject of cooperation between the government of Uganda and American authorities when the later lent its help in Operation Lightning Thunder in December 2008.
The operation has scaled down after a three-month period that allowed Ugandan troops in the DR Congo-then the rebel hide-out, expired.
Since then, a low-key operation to target the rebels has continued in DR Congo and Central African Republic.
The advent of the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act would potentially allow the US government to scale up its actions against the rebels who have reportedly continued abductions and killings in DR Congo and the Central African Republic.
Northern Uganda leaders like Gulu District Chairman Norbert Mao, who backed the law, say it presents the most progressive move against the rebels by targeting their militarily while providing a comfort package for northern recovery.
The statement of policy of the Act states that the Obama administration should eliminate “the threat” the LRA poses through “political, economic, military, and intelligence support”.
It also states that the aim of US assistance would be to protect civilians and “to apprehend or otherwise remove Joseph Kony and his top commanders from the battlefield”.
On Tuesday, Senator Tom Coburn who had singularly held up the progress of the Bill withdrew his opposition after a compromise was reached where Shs8 billion ($ 40 million) which the Bill authorises for humanitarian aid to northern Uganda would come from.
Campaigners, who include thousands of students, mobilised through the Internet had continued to apply pressure on Mr Coburn, who is the Senator from Oklahoma, setting up camp outside his office and threatening a hunger strike in the last 48 hours.
The Senator had held up the Bill under a unique American legislative rule that requires laws that pass without a formal vote to have unanimous consent of all lawmakers.
The bipartisan law was sponsored by Senators Russ Feingold (Democrat), Sam Brownback (Republican) and James Inhofe (Republican).
Yesterday, Senator Brownback said if enacted, the Act would direct President Obama to coordinate Executive Branch action to eliminate the root of the problem by apprehending Joseph Kony.
Senator Fiengold in a statement welcoming the passage of the Bill into law added that the legislation meant the “that the United States is committed to working with regional stakeholders to change the conditions that have allowed this war to persist for so long.”