The Ugandan government and the rebel Lords Resistance Army (LRA) are continuing their peace talks in southern Sudan. The two sides have been discussing conditions and counter-conditions in an effort to achieve lasting peace in northern Uganda. Among its demands, the LRA wants compensation for losses suffered during the 20-year insurgency and the disbanding of the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces. Kirunda Kivajinja is Uganda’s minister of information. From the capital, Kampala, he talks to VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey about his government’s conditions for peace with the LRA.
“What I have been trying to tell you is that government gives a brief to our team that is negotiating. And the latest of this brief is normally held by them and they release them according to the stage at which the negotiations have arrived so that we don’t torpedo any possibility of reaching an agreement or on the main issue. But despite that I can tell you conclusively that the stance of government is that we want LRA, the Kony (LRA leader Joseph Kony), to put down their arms and abandon terrorism and to say enough is enough. Once that is done then the rest will be done.”
Kivajinja says, “… it is common knowledge that they have caused a lot of suffering to our people. They have abducted people, they have mutilated people, so once they say this is the end of it, let’s go and settle down, then there is no problem.”
Kivajinja explains the difference between previous failed talks and the current negotiations. “What is special…in the present circumstances [is that] the Khartoum government, which was the main backer of the LRA, is no longer in control in southern Sudan; therefore it has made it more difficult for LRA to come and attack our people in Uganda…. We have also incurred a lot of losses and so Ugandan soil is no longer available to them; they are living as fugitives in the UN-controlled area in Karamba in Congo. So we think they are weak enough to know that their venture cannot be able to present any result. Secondly, southern Sudan has come in as a mediator. For the first time we’ve had an external mediator and southern Sudan thinks we are serious because we in Uganda and the base in Sudan have suffered at the hands of Kony. If Kony does not take advantage of that situation well I think he has himself to blame.”
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