Southern Sudanese victims of the more than 20 years insurgency by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels of Uganda are demanding compensation once a peace deal is reached between Uganda’s government and the rebels. This comes after the rebel delegation met Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, ahead of their meeting Wednesday with rebel commander Joseph Kony.
Southern Sudan’s Vice President Riek Marchar is also the mediator of the peace talks between the Ugandan government and the LRA. From the capital, Juba he tells reporter Peter Clottey that the victims demand for compensation is justified.
“A two day workshop was held in Juba by the people from the affected areas in Southern Sudan. One of the issues they raised was that they need to know whether they could be compensated for the losses that they have sustained during the war between the LRA and the government of Uganda in their areas,” Marchar noted.
He said several of the victims of the rebel insurgency want not only to come home and to rebuild their lives, but would also want to be compensated for their losses during the war.
“As you probably know over 5,500 plus who were killed in the war and in many areas, about seven countries were affected by the war. The agreement, which was signed between the government of Uganda and the LRA on resolving the political issues, stipulates that northeast Uganda would be reconstructed. So the people of Southern Sudan in the affected areas are requesting the same,” he said.
Marchar said the victims want among other things reconstruction of the infrastructure in the affected areas.
“Well, I think it would be mostly in terms of roads being repaired in those areas, resettlement of the returnees. Most of the refugees in Uganda now come from the areas, which were affected by the war between the LRA and the government of the Uganda, and they are also waiting like the people of northern Uganda to come back to their homes of origin. And when they come back the demand is already kicked off by chiefs, political leaders that they would want to see some form of compensation in terms of rehabilitation of schools, clinics, health centers, roads, regional clean water, and to make up for the loss,” Marchar pointed out.
He said contrary to speculations, the commander of the LRA rebels has assured him that his deputy Vincent Otti who is feared dead, is in fact alive.
“I had a telephone conversation with the leader of the LRA, chairman Joseph Kony and asked him the same question as to the whereabouts of Vincent Otti. In that conversation, he told me the man was alive. I have no reason to doubt his statement, and today the LRA met the President of the Republic of Uganda, his Excellency Yoweri Museveni. And tomorrow they would be in Juba to continue their journey to Ri-Kwamgba where they would meet tier leader Joseph Kony. And after that I would follow up and have discussion with Joseph Kony so that we have a final timetable for conclusion of this peace talks,” he said.
Meanwhile, the rebel delegation is also expected in Southern Sudan’s capital, Juba to continue their final preparations ahead of the next round of peace talks with Uganda’s government.