**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**
Tuesday, March 8 – WASHINGTON, D.C. – A collection of advocacy groups applauded U.S. Representatives Ed Royce (R-CA) and Jim McGovern (D-MA) for introducing legislation last week that would encourage Obama Administration efforts to pressure the Sudanese government not to support or give safe haven to the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
The Sudan Cessation of Support for the Lord’s Resistance Army Certification Act of 2011 would require the Obama Administration to certify to Congress that the Sudanese government is “no longer engaged in training, harboring, supplying, financing, or supporting in any way the Lord’s Resistance Army, its leader Joseph Kony, or his top commanders” before Sudan could be removed from the U.S. State Sponsor of Terrorism List (SSTL).
In January, South Sudan voted overwhelmingly in an historic self-determination referendum to secede from Sudan and will form Africa’s newest country on July 9, 2011. However, the LRA has repeatedly attacked South Sudan’s Western Equatoria and Western Bahr El Ghazal States since 2009, displacing tens of thousands of civilians. A surge of attacks in the past two months has underlined the threat the LRA poses to the security of the future state.
“One of the biggest wild cards in terms of the ability of the LRA to destabilize Southern Sudan will be whether the regime in Khartoum provides covert support,” said John Prendergast, Co-Founder of Enough. “Given the Sudan government’s lengthy history in this regard, it is imperative that the Obama administration take extra steps to ensure against any further support to the LRA from Khartoum.”
The Government of Sudan, based in Khartoum in northern Sudan, armed and supplied the LRA between 1994 and 2005, giving it safe haven and using it as a proxy force to disrupt South Sudan. Though Sudanese support to the LRA is thought to have stopped since then, LRA commanders met with the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) in South Darfur in 2009 and 2010 and allegedly requested renewed support from Sudan. The LRA is on the State Department’s “Terrorist Exclusion List,” and its leader, Joseph Kony has been named a “specially designated global terrorist.” Kony and two other LRA commanders are also indicted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
President Obama indicated to Khartoum that the U.S. would accelerate the process of removing Sudan from the SSTL if it fully implements its 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) with South Sudan and respects the results of the referendum vote. Existing law requires the President to certify that the Sudanese government has not supported international terrorism for the prior six months before removing it from the SSTL, but last week’s legislation seeks to spur greater efforts to ensure recent contacts between the LRA and the Sudanese government does not result in a renewed alliance.
“Given the LRA’s ability to destabilize South Sudan, it would be irresponsible for the United States to take Sudan off the State Sponsors of Terrorism List without first certifying that it is not supporting the LRA,” said Sam Bell, Executive Director of Genocide Intervention Net/Save Darfur Coalition. “If Sudan is removed from the SSTL, U.S. officials should make clear to Khartoum that it will be re-added to the list if there is any new evidence of support for the LRA.”
Representatives McGovern and Royce introduced the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, passed in May 2010, which mandated that President Obama report to Congress a strategy to deal with the LRA. The President’s strategy, released in November 2010, stated that the U.S. will seek to ensure that “the LRA receives no support or safe haven.”
“This legislation will encourage efforts by the Obama Administration to isolate the LRA from any potential supporters,” said Paul Ronan, Director of Advocacy at Resolve, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group. “By ensuring Sudan avoids future relations with the LRA and spurring greater efforts to investigate contacts between the LRA and Sudan, President Obama can demonstrate how serious he is about a peaceful future for both South Sudan and Sudan.”
Advocacy Groups Applauding The SUDAN CESSATION OF SUPPORT FOR THE LORD’S RESISTANCE ARMY CERTIFICATION ACT OF 2011:
The Enough Project
Genocide Intervention Net/Save Darfur
Citizens for Global Solutions
Investors Against Genocide
Jewish World Watch
Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur
Physicians for Human Rights
Stop Genocide Now
For Interviews Contact:
Amber Palmer-Halma – Resolve – Director of Communications – 202-213-3388 – email@example.com
Jonathan Hutson – Enough Project – Director of Communications – 857-919-5130 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Ann Brown – Genocide Intervention Network/Save Darfur—Communications Consultant – 301.633.4193 –