Uganda Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels are denying speculation that Vincent Otti, the second in command of the rebels, is dead. The rebels call the charges frivolous propaganda and blame President Yoweri Museveni’s government for trying to sew a seed of discord among them by saying there is infighting in the LRA’s rank and file.
The rebels also are reiterating their commitment to finding a long-lasting solution to more than two decades of insurgency in northern Uganda. Meanwhile, an LRA peace delegation would be in Kampala Thursday as part of its wide-ranging consultation on accountability and reconciliation issues of its proposed peace agreement with the Museveni government.
From Nairobi, Kenya, deputy delegation leader and technical advisor to the rebels on International Criminal Court (ICC) matters, David Matsanga, tells reporter Peter Clottey that speculation about the LRA is aimed at undermining the peace process.
“The reports that have walked the walk and walked the talk around the world are disturbing reports that are not true, baseless. They have no figment of truth except for those daydreamers who have been actually dreaming that this would happen in the LRA delegation. There is no infighting, and we were there physically in Garamba Park. We saw all the people that you people are talking about. And we sat there for three days as a delegation. We consulted with our leaders and they were all right and in one piece and very ready to finish the peace process up to the end,” Matsanga noted.
He denied the second in command of the LRA rebels is dead.
“Any military installations have got duties, and anybody could take up a phone and hold a phone for anybody in any military barracks. This is a military situation anybody can hold a phone of any commander. But let me tell you that the Uganda press and the international press have said several times that Otti was dead, but he has always been alive. So, if that is another story that is being peddled, it’s a sorry state for such people who are peddling such story,” he said.
Matsanga dismissed as rubbish reports that the LRA delegation refused to meet former Mozambican President Joachim Chissano about the adjourned peace talks in the Southern Sudanese capital, Juba.
“President Chissano met us, met the (rebel) high command. He came in Ri-Kwambga. The reports that are being written in Uganda are wrong and these are rubbish. In fact, we want this peace process to go ahead, and the Uganda government should stop speculating. Speculation would create chaos to this peace process. Chissano met all of us. I was one of the three people appointed by the high command because our leader could not reach there because of heavy rains. But he later on came and sent number three, who met Chissano in Ri-Kwambga,” Matsanga pointed out.
He also denied as false speculation that 11 members of the rebel command recently surrendered to the government of Sudan.
“A few weeks ago, they said 11 commanders have defected and they were in the hands of the SPLA (Sudan People’s Liberation Army). That is another lie! It was 11 of us who were actually arrested in Maridi. 11 including myself. We were arrested in Maridi and taken to the SPLA barracks, and the Uganda government rushed very quickly to say, oh, 11 of them have surrendered. I am not a commander, I’m a member of the peace delegation and it was we who were arrested in Maridi on our way to meet President Chissano, together with the high command,” he explained.