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Obama Seeks More Money to Fight Uganda’s LRA Rebels

The Obama administration is asking for more money to fight Ugandan rebels in a strategy document sent to Congress yesterday.

Since December 2008, the U.S. has spent more than $23 million in logistical and intelligence support for Ugandan army operations against the Lord’s Resistance Army, along with hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian and development aid for areas where the LRA has operated, the 33-page document said.

“Without additional funding, eliminating the LRA threat will remain elusive,” said the strategy document, which was e-mailed to Bloomberg by Michael Mershon, a spokesman for U.S. Representative Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat. McGovern co-sponsored legislation, enacted earlier this year, that ordered the Uganda strategic review.

The LRA, led by Joseph Kony, began its insurgency in the 1980s after Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni purged the army of members of the Acholi community, whose interests the LRA says it is defending. The Ugandan army’s recent offensive against the group has dispersed the rebels into remote parts of Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

U.S. President Barack Obama said the country needed to bring “political, economic, military, and intelligence support to bear in addressing the threat posed by the LRA” in a letter to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, sent along with yesterday’s strategy document.

‘Removal’ of Leader

The document called for regional and international cooperation in the “apprehension or removal” of Kony, along with the promotion of defections from the LRA, increased protection of civilians and humanitarian relief to affected communities.

A group of six human rights groups asked Obama to implement the strategy quickly in a joint statement e-mailed late yesterday.

“President Obama has done an admirable job formulating a strategy,” Paul Ronan, director of advocacy at the Washington D.C.-based Resolve group, said in the statement. “The challenge now is to turn this piece of paper into improvements on the ground.”

The rebels have killed more than 2,000 people and forced more than 400,000 to flee throughout central Africa since December 2008, according to the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Kony faces International Criminal Court charges of murder, mutilation, rape and the abduction of thousands of children for use as soldiers. He is thought to be along the border of the Central African Republic and Sudan’s south Darfur region, according to the UN.

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