The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) delegation to the peace talks in Juba has reacted angrily to reports that one its top commanders, Raska Lukwiya, was gunned down by the UPDF in northern Uganda.
Photo: END OF THE ROAD: The body of Raska Lukwiya lying at Pajimo army detachment in Kitgum district
See full article Lukwiya death angers LRA
by Henry Mukasa in Juba, New Vision Online, Aug 13 2006. Excerpt:
Sunday Vision reported yesterday that the LRA third-in-command, Maj Gen Raska Lukwiya, was killed on Saturday by the UPDF in Kitgum district. Lukwiya's body, clad in a green army uniform, was reportedly identified by former LRA commanders at Pajimo barracks in Kitgum.
He was killed together with his bodyguard at Obem village, 7km southwest of Mucwini sub-county at about 10:00am.
Lukwiya was the third on the list of the International Criminal Court (ICC) of LRA commanders wanted for crimes against humanity. Others are Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti and Okot Odhiambo, based in DR Congo.
Also indicted is Dominic Ongwen, who is said to be trapped in northern Uganda.
Meanwhile, the Government has said it is awaiting the LRA response to its ceasefire proposals, as talks resume in Juba today, reports Cyprian Musoke.
Internal affairs minister and government chief negotiator Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda told a press briefing at the media centre yesterday that despite the 'temporary hitch' of the LRA side walking out of the talks, the Government is still resolved in its search for peace.
"We had a temporary hitch, which came when we were still talking. Each side presented their case on disarmament and cessation of hostilities and how they should be handled.
"We waited for our colleagues on the other side to present their case, but they said because government had not declared a unilateral ceasefire, they decided to walk out of the talks."
He said his team and the mediators headed by Southern Sudan Vice-President Dr Riek Machar continued with the talks, in which the Government presented its stand on the remaining item No.5 concerning disarmament and reintegration of the LRA 'compatriots'.
"We agreed that the mediators liaise and share with them (LRA) our proposal on disarmament and cessation of hostilities.
"They did and on Monday (today), we are resuming talks. We expect the LRA to respond on what they think about our proposals on disarmament, cessation of hostilities and reintegration," he said.
Commenting about the killing of Lukwiya, defence minister Crispus Kiyonga said although the Government regrets the loss of any Ugandan, his death should not stop the talks.
Rugunda said he was on an agreed two-day recess, but state minister for foreign affairs Okello Oryem was in charge of the Juba team.
"I also came for consultations to make sure that we remain as focused as before," he said.
He denied that the Government was arrogant and was using the carrot-and-stick trick to 'hammer' the LRA.
"We are engaged genuinely in peace talks for an agreement to conclusively end the war. We believe these brothers and sisters should end the conflict and get reintegrated. The soft landing we are talking about is multi-faceted," he said.
He said the Government had proposed two assembly points for LRA, one in Nabanga, Sudan and another in Waliggo, Kitgum district. The areas will be guarded by the Sudan People's Liberation Army.
"This is why we have said, there must be conditions for ceasefire, like mechanisms for monitoring it," he said.
He said depending on the outcome of talks, the ICC should appreciate a peaceful resolution.
Meanwhile, the ICC has asked the UPDF for Lukwiya's body to confirm whether he is the one.
The northern army spokesman, Lt Chris Magezi and the regional UPDF child protection officer, Capt Patrick Ochira, who took journalists to Pajimo army detachment to view the body, said, "An official from ICC called me yesterday evening (Saturday) and this morning again (Sunday), asking to have a chance to look at the body of Lukwiya.
" told them that the body would be taken to Gulu district where he hailed from so that the relatives could claim and give it a decent burial. They want to confirm if he is the one to avoid wrong identification like it happened for the case of Dominic Ongwen,"
Ongwen was reported killed in Teso about a year ago but was later seen alive.