Reports from Uganda suggest the recently-signed truce between government forces and the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is holding. The Deputy Commander of the rebels, Vincent Otti, said the LRA is sending a team of top rebels to northern Uganda to tell residents they are committed to a peaceful settlement of the 20-year conflict. Meanwhile, the head of the government’s peace negotiation team Ruhakana Rugunda says he is confident the two parties will reach a peaceful resolution when talks resume. Rugunda says mediators will present their recommendations on common issues raised by the government and the LRA.
Rugunda discussed the truce with VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey.
“It’s rather a cessation of hostilities and since this was announced yesterday, in the morning there has not been any incident or violations so far. So it is holding well. “On the base of information we have, they [rebels] have played their part and we are also encouraging them to do so. So both parties are responding very well to the cessation of hostilities.”
Rugunda says Ugandans have expectations regarding the cessation of hostilities.
“Really Ugandans wanted to see the guns silent, and this was done since yesterday. And Ugandans are happy at this development, it’s an important step towards the achievement of lasting peace and concluding the conflict in northern Uganda. Really we have agreed on a five item agenda, we have disposed off the first item, which is the cessation of hostilities. The next item on the agenda will be the comprehensive solutions to that problem, and we do expect that the two sides will be able to agree on the way forward.”
Rugunda says the government is committed to achieving peace.
“As we have said before, we are facing the talks with an open mind, the primary objective being to bring peace and ensure that the conflict ends. So we have an open mind, and ready to take any point that is rationale, that is reasonable, that will make a contribution ending the conflict and bringing lasting peace in northern Uganda.”
He discussed his government’s controversial decision to grant amnesty to the rebel leaders – against the wishes of the International Criminal Court.
“We are in contact with the ICC; however our position on the matter is ending the conflict in northern Uganda and bringing peace to northern Uganda [is most important]. And ensuring that people who have been still in the camps can go back to their villages and rebuild their homes and live normal and productive lives. So we are going to use the alternative system of justice, which is [the] Makapult Lacholi culture of forgiveness, reconciliation, and conflict resolution. And we believe that, that will deal with impunity added with amnesty, which has been granted by government. We believe that, that will be a sufficient mechanism that should be able to be accepted not only in Uganda but by the international community including the ICC.”
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