Congo Watch: Clerics criticise Chissano’s stand on LRA rebels

Friday, July 24, 2009

Clerics criticise Chissano’s stand on LRA rebels

From Daily Monitor Friday, July 24, 2009:
Clerics criticise Chissano’s stand on LRA rebels
(Gulu) - A statement by Mr Joachim Chissano, the outgoing UN Secretary General’s envoy for the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) affected areas, recommending that both the peaceful and military option be pursued to end the conflict in northern Uganda has received round condemnation from a local religious group.

The Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) yesterday released a press statement signed by its chairperson, Arch Bishop John Baptist Odama and his vice Alhajji Musa Khelil, saying the military option still being recommended by Mr Chissano failed to bring peace for over two decades.

“We respect the final recommendations which Mr Chissano presented to the Security Council however, as religious leaders, we always stand upon the principles of non-violence and dialogue to resolve conflicts,” ARLPI said in the statement.

The former Mozambique President briefed the UN Security Council on his final observations and recommendations regarding the state of the peace process between the government of Uganda and the LRA on July 15.

In the statement, the members said, while they appreciate the multiple consultations Chissano and his team conducted throughout the region, they do not want the region to recede to another war.
“We do not have the confidence that any military action will bring security to the region but instead will only further destabilise the relative calm which we are experiencing,” the statement adds.

The clerics urged all the stakeholders to put more efforts on building trust and confidence between the parties so that dialogue can continue to lead to the final signing of the peace agreement.

They further cautioned that military action could put in danger the lives of innocent civilians abducted by the LRA in Uganda, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Central African Republic.

The Acholi religious Leaders Initiative has been at the fore front of pushing for peaceful resolution of the conflict in the north since its inception in the early 1990’s though the government believed that the military option was the best way of achieving peace in northern Uganda.

The Final Peace Agreement was negotiated between the government and the LRA, but the LRA’s leader Joseph Kony has repeatedly failed to sign the deal, citing indictments and arrest warrants by the International Criminal Court (ICC) as obstacles.

But the Security Council last week urged the LRA rebels to sign a peace agreement which seeks to end its decades-long conflict with the government.
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