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Chief Negotiator for Ugandan Rebel Leader Quits


The chief negotiator and occasional spokesman for wanted Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony of the Lord's Resistance Army has resigned his position with the rebel group, saying he plans on running for the Ugandan presidency in the 2011 elections.

The former negotiator for Joseph Kony's rebel Lord's Resistance Army, David Matsanga, told VOA that he is resigning his affiliation with the group.

"I decided to resign as the chief negotiator and leader of the LRA peace delegation," he said.

He blamed his decision to quit on the lack of commitment to the peace process both from Kony and Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni.

The now-former representative of the LRA has had a long and volatile relationship with the group. He began acting as Kony's spokesman in 1998, but publicly apologized two years later, saying that he had looked over LRA's sins in the hope that it could be transformed to a legitimate liberation movement.

He was then asked by Kony to serve as his representative at the peace talks in Juba, Sudan.

Matsanga says one of the reasons for his resignation is that the LRA's new bases in the surrounding areas of eastern Congo, southern Sudan, and southeastern Central African Republic lie outside his mandate as a Ugandan peace negotiator.

He urged President Museveni to implement the conditions of the unsigned agreement that call for further development of the northern Uganda area, which had been the LRA's main base for most of its 23-year campaign of terror.

Matsanga, a long-time critic of the Ugandan leader, says that he will run against Museveni in the next elections.

"I will go back and stand for presidency in 2011," he said. "I will take my stake for president of the Republic of Uganda as an independent candidate."

Kony has been described as messianic-type of figure in his leadership over the Lord's Resistance Army. The LRA is notorious for its tactic of replenishing the ranks of its fighters by abducting children and brainwashing them as rebel soldiers.

The group is reported to have carried over its tactics of attacks and abductions against the local population to its new areas of operations.

The Juba Peace Talks, which ran from 2006 to 2008, produced a final agreement, but Kony has failed to show up to formally sign the peace deal. The rebel leader has been indicted by the International Criminal Court on 12 counts of crimes against humanity and 21 counts of war crimes.

The resigning negotiator expressed exasperation about Kony's no-shows, saying that it is not his job to chase the leader around central Africa.

The former spokesman for Kony said that he could not explain what the LRA is fighting for in the neighboring countries.

Matsanga has lived in exile since the beginning of President Museveni's time in power.

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