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Ugandan Rebels Reportedly Leave Camps Before Peace Talks


Members of a northern Ugandan rebel group who were to participate in negotiations with the Ugandan government have reportedly left their camps, leading some to speculate that peace talks to end almost two decades of civil war may be in jeopardy.

Under guidelines laid out at a peace process that began last month, fighters of the Lord's Resistance Army were to come out of the bush and assemble in two neutral camps in southern Sudan, while rebel and government representatives were to meet in the Sudanese town of Juba.

Ugandan presidential adviser John Nagenda tells VOA that the rebels have left the camps, breaking the terms of the peace process.

"The time comes when you wonder whether these people are serious," he said. "We have never known these people to go into negotiations to the end. They always find some lame excuse to get off."

But the BBC quoted a rebel spokesman as denying that the rebel fighters had left the camps.

He said that helicopters and truckloads of troops from the Ugandan army are surrounding the camps, and that he believes it is the Ugandan government who is not serious about the negotiations.

Uganda's military has denied deploying troops near the rebels.

From its inception in August, the peace process has been plagued by problems.

One of the biggest obstacles has been the issuing of arrest warrants against the top rebel leadership by the International Criminal Court.

The rebels have said they would not attend the talks until the ICC drops the war crimes charges. The ICC says the charges stand.

Northern Uganda has been plagued by civil war since the late 1980s. Members of the elusive rebel group have been blamed for committing atrocities and gross human rights violations in the area.

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