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.
Monday, March 05, 2007
LRA shun Acholi meeting in Juba
Mar 4 2007 New Vision Online by Gloria Laker in Juba:
Posted by Ingrid J. Jones at Monday, March 05, 2007