Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels say they have presented a revised budget to Southern Sudan Vice President Riek Marchar who is the mediator of the peace talks between the rebels and the Ugandan government. This followed a meeting with the mediator who told the rebels that about 600 dollars has been raised to fund the LRA consultations as stipulated in the third agenda item, which is accountability and reconciliation. The rebels complained the money would not be enough to transport about 500 people to carry out their consultations. They are asking the donor community to supplement the 600 thousand dollars that has already been raised.
David Matsanga is the technical advisor to the LRA rebels. From the Southern Sudanese capital, Juba he shares with reporter Peter Clottey the outcome of the meeting they with the mediator.
“The meeting that we had with Dr. Riek Marchar was purely to look at the revised budget, and to discuss the way forward on how the consultation time table would be. And we have left it to the mediation, and we are going ahead with our consultation. We want our 500 people to be airlifted or sent by road or any other means to Rikwamgba for us to meet those people, discuss widely, explain the accountability and reconciliation agreement, explain comprehensive agreement to the people of Uganda. And that is what we have done,” Matsanga noted.
He declined to divulge the details of the rebels’ revised budget. But insisted the rebels want all of the 500 people to be transported to a location of their choice.
“You can get those details from the chief because this is a matter that should not actually be publicly and politically motivated. This is a peace process which is very fragile, very technical and it does not need the media to put up an apple beat of how, when, how much. We are not in that figure; we are in for discussion. If the chief mediator carries 500 people from Uganda who want to consult with us, we are ready and we are willing to do that, and we shall do that,” he said.
Matsanga said the discussion the rebels had with the mediator centered around, among other things, the timetable for the rest of the peace negotiations.
“W\e have given the timetable, we have given the input we wanted, and they are with the mediation committee. But let me add this, one that the LRA still says and maintains that they want their 500 delegates to be ferried to Rikwamgba. How the mediation would ferry these delegates depends on them. We are only pleading with the donor community that we are doing two things at a go; we are doing the comprehensive solution agreement, and we are doing accountability and reconciliation agreement, so that when we resume talks in the next coming months we should have done everything, which would lead us to protocol mechanisms, and which would lead us to the CPA (Comprehensive Peace Agreement), that is our position,” Matsanga pointed out.
He was less enthused with some people who he said are questioning the 500 delegates the rebels have selected to carry out its consultation.
“The Uganda government is consulting over 12 million people who would be attending these conferences. Have you also asked Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda how many people he is consulting? There are 85 districts in Uganda, and the Uganda government is consulting each district. And each district has got a day when consultation would take place. Why do you ask when we are asking the stakeholders only few people in affected areas, and others in all places to come and give us advice on how to put the implementation of protocols mechanisms in a CPA. We don’t want to write a CPA that would be bankrupt because the people have not actually come to consult with us,” he said.