Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels say they will ask for a postponement of the current peace talks in the Southern Sudanese capital of juba if they do not raise the necessary funds to prepare for the next round of talks. The LRA says it needs to raise about two million dollars from donors to organize a visit by 500 people to meet with rebel leaders, as well as travel to some African countries to help them build a strong case for justice and reconciliation. Meanwhile, both the rebels and the Kampala government have agreed to postpone to the end of august the resumption of the peace talks.
Ruhakana Rugunda is the leader of the government’s negotiating team. From the capital, Kampala he tells reporter Peter Clottey that the two million dollars the rebels are asking for is too abstract.
“We do not think it’s necessary to raise two million dollars in order to carry out consultations for the peace process. We think the consultations can be effectively carried out with a much less figure than two million dollars,” Rugunda pointed out.
He said he does not envisage the peace process to be negatively impacted by the action of the rebels.
“We do not expect that that would affect the peace process. We nevertheless have discussed with the Lord’s Resistance Army, and agreed with them that both sides require more time for consultations. And so both sides have agreed that a new date should be fixed later on to ensure that the consultations are effectively carried out. So we do expect the talks to resume in August,” he said.
Rugunda said the Kampala government has assured the rebels of their safety if they come to Uganda for consultations with some of the major donors.
“We think the primary stakeholders are in Uganda, and the government of Uganda has time and again said the government will guarantee security of LRA leaders. They can come and carry out consultations much more cheaply with primary stakeholders in Uganda instead of hindering the peace process on raising two million dollars,” Rugunda noted.
He reiterated that although the government supports the LRA in its attempt to be prepared before the next round of peace talks, the money the rebels are asking for is not feasible.
“We fully support that consultations by both ourselves and Lord’s Resistance Army should take place. But we don not agree that you will require two million dollars to be able to carry out the consultations. We believe that effective consultation can be done much more cheaply than what is being raised, two million dollars. We think that they should be able to consult much more cheaply,” he said.
Rugunda said he expects the controversy surrounding the rebels’ request for the two million dollars to be resolved.
“This matter would be resolved between the Lord’s Resistance Army and the mediation team. And the government of Uganda fully supports the consultations by both government and the LRA, but we would like the Lord’s Resistance Army to make their budget much more manageable than putting that figure of two million dollars, which from our own standard is a lot of money,” Rugunda said.