Ugandans have welcomed with open arms a delegation of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels who are in the country to begin consultations on accountability and reconciliation measures for atrocities committed during the 20-year war with northern rebels. The government recently concluded its side of the consultations on this third agenda item of the ongoing peace negotiations, and is reportedly waiting for the rebels to conclude theirs before the next round of peace talks opens in the Southern Sudanese capital, Juba.
The LRA delegation is expected to hold talks with President Yoweri Museveni in coming days to bolster the adjourned peace talks before meeting those who have been affected by more than two decades of the rebel insurgency in northern Uganda.
Violence has died down in northern Uganda in recent months as talks went on in Juba, but victims of the LRA insurgency are eagerly waiting for the end of the peace negotiations.
Leader of the government’s negotiating team with the rebels, Ruhakana Rugunda is Uganda’s minister for internal affairs. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that the rebels’ visit to the capital is a significant step in finding a lasting solution.
“We received the LRA delegations. They have been well and warmly received, and we have had moments of discussions on a number of issues. And the delegation would be here for some days, interacting with the people,” Rugunda noted.
He said ordinary Ugandans are not only happy with the arrival of the rebel delegation, but are also expecting a lasting solution to be found to end the violence that has plagued northern Uganda.
“Ugandans are happy that this delegation has come because the arrival of the delegation symbolizes progress in seeking a peaceful solution to the conflict in northern Uganda,” he said.
Rugunda said both parties and the mediator have put modalities for the third agenda item, which includes consultations, into place.
“All the essential provisions for consultations have been put in place, and all we (government) are required to do is to interact with the people and get their views about issues of accountability and reconciliation, “Rugunda pointed out.
He explains that the significance of the rebel delegation’s arrival in the country is to begin consultations.
“It’s very significant development because this is the first time in the last 20 years for the LRA delegation to come to Uganda. And it is evidenced that there is more confidence that has been built between the LRA and the government, and that the chances for a peaceful solution to the conflict are very good,” he explained.
He said the meeting between President Museveni and the rebels would be primarily about expediting peace negotiations.
“They meet President Museveni in the next few days. In any case, at a time and date that would be mutually convenient for both parties. But the meeting would really focus on pushing the peace process forward to expeditiously conclude the peace process,” he noted.