South Africa, Kenya and Mozambique have agreed to join the Government of Southern Sudan in the mediation of peace talks between the Ugandan government and the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
Obonyo Olweny is the spokesman of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army and a member of the delegation to the talks. From the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, he told English to Africa Service reporter Shaka Ssali that they have agreed to travel to Southern Sudan to work out the modalities of resuming the talks.
“It’s true that South Africa, Kenya and Mozambique, at the invitation of former Mozambican president Joachim Chissano (UN Secretary General’s representative for Northern Uganda), have agreed to join the mediation team in Juba,” Olweny says. He adds, “It’s a positive development. We are going to talk about talks.”
The call for the three to join the mediation team was a major condition the LRA set before they return to the negotiating table in Juba. The rebels pulled out of the peace talks in January, demanding a change of venue and mediator before they would resume negotiations. Following various meetings between Chissano, the Sudanese government, the LRA and the Ugandan government, the LRA agreed to resume the talks on April 13th.
Olweny says, “The first session will be chaired by Chissano because it was for his efforts that the mediation, secretariat and the monitoring teams were beefed up.”
Measures to restore LRA confidence initially included expanding southern Sudan’s vice president Riek Machar’s mediating team, whom the rebels distrust, with delegates from other African countries.