Despite delays in getting LRA rebel leader Joseph Kony to sign a peace agreement, one group says it’s not time to give up on the Uganda peace process.
Resolve Uganda says hope remains for an “imminent end to Uganda’s 22-year war.” Peter Quaranto, senior research for the group, spoke from Oxford, England, to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the stuttering peace process.
“Those of us who are involved in the peace process are disappointed by the delay, the continued delay, in signing by Joseph Kony. But I think that the message that we’re trying to get out, which is not getting heard enough, the message we’re hearing from civil society, from the mediator, from the UN special envoy is the need for patience, the need for creativity, that there is still hope that this agreement can be signed. We’ve heard that there are continuing efforts to resume dialogue with Kony, that they’re working out the kinks with the agreement. And we think that there is plenty of space to get this agreement done or at least to ensure that the gains that have been made through this peace process are sustained,” he says.
Quaranto was asked whether a time limit should be set for Kony to sign the deal? He says, “For sure we need to make sure this is not a completely open ended process. The people of Northern Uganda are effectively frozen in their tracks from returning home. But that said, in 1994, it was an abrupt military ultimatum that brought an end to what was at the time a very hopeful peace initiative. And so, after 22 years of failed military efforts to end this conflict, we think that all peaceful options should be exhausted. And that means providing the space for mediators, for diplomats, for civil society to continue to induce Kony and other top rebel leaders out of the bush, to continue to build on the gains made from this process and to ensure a peaceful resolution to the conflict.”
One of Kony’s concerns has been indictments handed down against him by the International Criminal Court, the ICC. “I think what we’ve learned over the last couple of days is that certainly Joseph Kony was apprehensive about signing the agreement without clear guarantees for both his physical and financial security when he comes out of the bush. It’s not surprising that with outstanding International Criminal Court warrants for his arrest that he and his top commanders would be hesitant to do so. But that said, what I think has been built throughout the course of this peace process over the last two years is a united front of civil society, of mediators, of diplomats, of even family members of Kony himself who are saying that the war needs to end now.”
Quaranto says that he believes the parties involved are coming up with pragmatic solutions to ensure there’s accountability, but not at the expense of peace.