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Uganda's LRA Rebel Chief Peace Negotiator Denies He's Resigning


With the arrest of renegade Congolese rebel leader Laurent Nkunda by Rwanda and the trial in The Hague of another Congo rebel leader, Thomas Lubanga, some are suggesting Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebel leader Joseph Kony could be next.

This speculation is supported by recent joint military offensive against the LRA by the armies of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Southern Sudan. The attacks followed the repeated failure of LRA leader Joseph Kony to sign a final peace agreement to end more than 22 years of LRA insurgency in northern Uganda.

There were other speculations that LRA chief peace negotiator David Matsanga was on the verge of resigning his post. But Matsanga told VOA that he will remain with the LRA until a peaceful solution is found to the northern Uganda conflict.

"I just want to say that one, when I left Rikwamba in 2008 on 29th of November I talked to General Joseph Kony. I reassured General Joseph Kony I will be with him up to the end, and I am still with him up to the end until we find a peaceful solution to this conflict. I have defended LRA since the 1990s, and I know that the Ugandan government was wrong. It should have given us ample time to go back to Kony after being in Kampala to tell him exactly what happened," he said.

Matsanga rejected any notion that Africa, particularly the Great Lakes sub-region may be running out of patience with LRA leader Kony for his repeated refusal to sign a final peace deal and could be moving toward arresting Kony like Congo rebel leader Laurent Nkunda.

"The mood is being done by the same people who have done it before. Rwanda, Uganda they went into Congo, invaded Congo, created war in Congo. They are the same people turning around after killing a country to say they have arrested Nkunda. But let me come back to Uganda. Uganda's attack on the LRA was not called for. Look at the number of civilians who have died, over 700 of them being killed jet fighters from the top, helicopters combing the whole forest killing many people," Matsanga said.

He said the LRA was still committed to peace but was calling for the creation of an international force to safeguard the assembling of LRA fighters at Rikwamba.

"The LRA are committed to peace. General Kony a week ago instructed me to initiate a peace condition, and I put the conditions to the government of Uganda: One, ceasefire, two create a neutral international force which will safeguard Rikwamba or the areas where we shall agree. So until that neutral international force from South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania are put in force to safeguard the LRA combatants, nothing can move," Matsanga said.

Matsanga said the LRA has been around for more than 22 years, and he didn't think the Ugandan army would be able to destroy the LRA.

Kony has not been heard from since the beginning of the joint military offensive by the armies of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Southern Sudan.

Still Matsanga said he has been in touch with the reclusive LRA leader.

"I have told frankly that I have had communication, and I have repeatedly said on this radio we still have communication with General Joseph Kony. He has expressed his desire for peace. So let's advocate for dialogue; let's have a ceasefire, let's a neutral of Tanzania, South Africa, Mozambique and Kenya," Matsanga said.

Matsanga said the agreement which he has been negotiating on behalf of the LRA with the Ugandan government for the last two years is the best way forward to resolving the conflict. But he said the issue of the International Criminal Court (ICC) which has indicted Kony and some of his top lieutenants remains a sticking point.

"This agreement is a good agreement except it has one bad thing, that thing is the ICC. Let's look at the ICC. How do we solve the ICC? This agreement cannot be signed when one you have investigated one side, you have put them on trial one side, you want to persecute them one side, you want to prosecute them one side. That is what the prosecutor in The Hague has done just like Thomas Lubanga today. It is Thomas Lubanga standing trial today in The Hague, but who gave Thomas Lubanga guns? Who funded Thomas Lubanga with arms?" Matsanga said.


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