Talks between the Uganda government and the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) rebels, which started in July last year under the auspices of Southern Sudan authority, is currently suspended following the rebel's pullout over alleged bias of the southern Sudanese mediators. But the Uganda government maintains that it has full confidence in the mediators and is still committed to the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Northern Uganda.
Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda is Uganda’s minister of internal affairs and the leader of the Uganda government side at the peace talks. In an interview with VOA’s Douglas Mpuga, Dr. Rugunda said “the talks between the government of Uganda and the LRA rebels are on course except there are one or two hitches about the points raised by the LRA on the venue and on the mediation.”
He said the government of Uganda is happy with Juba [Southern Sudan capital] as venue and the government of Southern Sudan as the mediator. “..the Uganda government has no plans of shifting the venue nor do we have plans of changing the mediator,” said Dr. Rugunda.
He dismissed claims by the leadership of LRA rebels that the government of Uganda has violated the cessation of hostilities agreement and instead accused the rebels of not honoring the agreement by refusing to assemble in the designated areas as provided for in the agreement. “They have stubbornly refused to assemble at Owiny-Kibul and Ri-kwangba in any meaningful numbers”.
Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda reiterated, “Uganda is committed to a peaceful solution to the conflict in northern Uganda and will do all that is possible to support the peace process”.
The LRA, who announced last week their formal withdrawal from Juba talks, called on Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki on Thursday to help identify a new mediator and venue for the stalled talks with the Ugandan government.
The rebels wanted Kibaki, current chairman of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), to help move the talks from Juba in southern Sudan to either Kenya or South Africa.
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