Religious leaders from DR Congo, Uganda, Central African Republic and south Sudan, have asked their respective governments to initiate negotiations with rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army to ensure an end to their activities.
Under their umbrella body of Regional Committee of Religious leaders from the LRA affected areas, the clergies say they plan to meet the heads of state of the affected countries to convince them to endorse peace talks instead of military offensives, which they say have cost more lives than saved.
The concerns are part of resolutions passed after a four-day conference held in Gulu and jointly endorsed by Richard Domba, the bishop of Dungu-Doroma; Marcel Utembi, the archbishop of Kisangani; John Baptist Odama, the archbishop of Gulu; Sheikh Musa Khelil, the Khadi of Acholi and Macloerd Baker Ochola, the retired bishop of Kitgum diocese.
Marcel Utembi Tapa, the chairman of the regional committee of religious leaders, said they plan to engage the African Union to organize a conference that would draw participants from all the four countries where the rebels operate to ensure coherence and formulate a regional approach to end the wars.
Tapa also said they require the governments involved with the rebels to clarify on the terms of reference of the presence of the UPDF in the DR Congo, south Sudan and Central African Republic.
He noted that all the sides in the conflict should observe ceasefire and resort to dialogue and negotiations to end the suffering being inflicted on the local population in the countries.
The prelate said they have held over five conferences between July last yea to date in an attempt to search for an effective end to the LRA atrocities in the countries.
//Cue in: Translation Odama explained that they intend to explain to the presidents of the respective countries when they meet later that military option is futile. He recalled the several military onslaughts the UPDF initiated against the LRA and yet never effectively ended the rebellion instead exporting it to other communities.
//Cue in: "We have planned..."
Cue out: "...not yielded the fruits."//
Richard Domba, the bishop of Dungu-Doruma said the rebels were still carrying attacks and abductions in his diocese adding that a speedy peaceful end to the activities of the rebels must be pursued by the governments.
Domba also asked humanitarian agencies to need to step up their support to the victims of the rebel atrocities. Odama said as religious leaders they would not relent from advocating peaceful end to the conflict.
Odama is credited for forming the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative, a body that pressed for government of Uganda and the LRA to enter negotiations.
The LRA rebels have extended their operations into DR Congo, Central African Republic and Southern Sudan since they were forced out of northern Uganda where they caused massive atrocities for over a decade.