Monday, March 05, 2007

LRA shun Acholi meeting in Juba

Mar 4 2007 New Vision Online by Gloria Laker in Juba:
The Lord's Resistance Army rebels did not show up for the Acholi peace conference, Wang Oo, held in the South Sudan capital of Juba.

Gulu chairman Norbert Mao said the rebels were invited but they did not turn up and never communicated why.

The conference that was scheduled to end yesterday was organised in an attempt to restore talks between the Government of Uganda and the LRA rebels as a way of ending the northern Uganda conflict.

About 150 people, who included elders, MPs, and opinion leaders from the Acholi districts of Gulu, Kitgum, Amuru and Pader, attended the conference, which was funded by DANIDA and the Canadian government. It was organised by the Acholi cultural leader, Rwot David Onen Achana.

The leader of the opposition in Parliament, who is also the Agago County MP, Prof. Ogenga Latigo, pleaded with Dr. Riek Machar to continue mediating in the talks.

Ogenga asked the LRA rebels to resume the talks as the team tries to solve the issues they raised.

He said the conflict had greatly affected the people of South Sudan and northern Uganda.

Meanwhile, the Sudanese President, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, has said the LRA rebels will only be tolerated in Sudan for peace negotiations, a special envoy told the meeting in Juba on Saturday.

In January, Bashir threatened to "get rid of the LRA from Sudan". The rebels have since refused to resume talks in the South Sudanese capital unless a neutral venue is found outside Sudan. Uganda has rejected the request as a time-wasting tactic.

Reuters quoted the special UN envoy for the conflict, Joaquim Chissano, the former Mozambique president, as saying that the Sudanese president had clarified that he welcomed the LRA in south Sudan for peace talks only.

"He clarified his position ... These people are welcome to the talks and to dialogue. But if they are not going to participate in peace, there is no reason for them to stay in Sudan," Chissano said in Juba.

"The only way forward is to talk with everybody until consensus is reached," he added.

UN envoy meets LRA leader Joseph Kony nr Sudan-DRC border - Juba peace talks resume this week- Dr Machar

Mar 5 2007 SomaliNet news report by David Odoki:
Peace talks between the Ugandan government and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army are set to resume this week, after a months' long lull. The decision was reached at a seven-hour meeting last Thursday between UN envoy Joachim Chissano and rebel leader Joseph Kony.

Former Mozambique president Chissano is the UN envoy for the conflict in Northern Uganda. Dr Riek Machar, the chief mediator and vice-president of South Sudan, told Daily Monitor that he expects the LRA negotiating team to return to Juba this Wednesday.

"I expect the LRA delegation to return to Juba for us to resume the peace talks," Dr Machar said by telephone from Juba. A review of the cessation of hostilities agreement renewed in December would be first on the agenda, he said.

Early this year, the LRA's delegation left Juba demanding a change of venue and mediator, citing bias by Dr Machar and an unsafe environment in South Sudan.

Those issues, which have stalled the talks, appear to have been discussed in the meeting that transpired between Mr Chissano the LRA's leadership, sources said.

The meeting, which is Kony's second with a top UN official, took place late Friday in an undisclosed location near the Sudan-DR Congo border.

Late last year former UN humanitarian affairs chief Jan Egeland visited Kony at his remote base in Garamba, DR Congo.-(The Monitor)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Otti in DRC: LRA says no to truce

Reuters report by Tim Cocks Feb 28 2007 (via IOL) - excerpt:
Lord's Resistance Army rebels will not renew a landmark truce with the Ugandan government set to expire on Wednesday, a top LRA official said, raising fears of a new chapter in the brutal 20-year war in northern Uganda.

The LRA pulled out of peace talks with the government in south Sudan's capital Juba last month, citing security fears after Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir threatened to "get rid of the LRA from Sudan".

They have refused to resume talks unless another venue outside Sudan is found, a request Kampala rejects as a time-wasting tactic.

"We are not going to renew anything," LRA deputy commander Vincent Otti told Reuters by satellite telephone from his forest hideout in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Otti said the LRA had no plans to resume hostilities, but would hit back in self-defence. He added that the LRA would happily sign an extension of the truce in another venue.

Addressing journalists late on Tuesday, President Yoweri Museveni warned military operations against the LRA were still possible.

"Peace in Uganda will be maintained with or without peace talks," he said. "Talks were mainly for the benefit of the terrorists. If they don't give in, that will be their problem."

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