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Uganda Seeks Bilateral Ceasefire with LRA

The Ugandan government says it is now seeking a bilateral ceasefire agreement with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). It had previously rejected a ceasefire, prompting the LRA to walk out of the peace talks (being held in Juba, the regional capital of Southern Sudan) in protest. Kirunda Kivajinja, Uganda’s third deputy minister and minister of information, says all ceasefire agreements must be negotiated. At a press conference yesterday he said there are factors that both parties need to consider and resolve.

Kivajinja said ramifications for violating the ceasefire need to be established, as well as a monitoring system for overseeing the proceedings put in place. He urged the LRA to take this opportunity to abandon armed rebellion and build the foundation for peace in Northern Uganda.

Last Friday, Joseph Kony, the leader of the LRA, declared a unilateral ceasefire and encouraged the government to do the same. The government was reluctant, saying the LRA had abused past ceasefires. But it now seems the government is prepared to discuss a ceasefire. Kivajinja spoke with VOA English to Africa Service reporter Peter Clottey about the government’s request for a bilateral agreement with the LRA.

“The talks broke off for consultations by the respective delegations to go and consult on a number of issues. Negotiations were going on very well, on an agreed agenda. And a number of points have been agreed upon. During that time, also Kony had a pilgrimage to Karamba. Now when he was there, he declared a unilateral ceasefire; now for us, we don’t do business outside the conference table. So that is the situation that we think they should be harmonized by our mediator by talking to each side. And finding that, a common ground by bringing us to the table. Because as far as we are concerned, we are committed to a ceasefire, we are committed to a successful conclusion of the peace talks. We think that ceasefire should be signed immediately after the signing of the peace talks and an agreement. And that is the position.”

Kivajinja said declaring a ceasefire is not new, as the rebels have reneged on that position before.

“…They say we should declare a unilateral (ceasefire) as they did a unilateral. But unilateralism with no agreed positions, you know they are bound to break off. Because with the ceasefire they have much obligations, their specific obligations to the LRA, there are specific obligations by the government….

“I think they might have wanted a publicity stunt. Otherwise I don’t see anything because, we are all working towards peace. When you are negotiating at the negotiating table, and somebody goes to the market to announce that I am going to do this, then you find out that it is not necessary; otherwise they are abandoning the table and going to announce things in the street.”

He specified the demands made by both the government and the LRA.

“We have agreed on most of the things that is remaining….about the ceasefire and the conditions that go with the ceasefire. For example, the mutual obligations, the obligations which are to be fulfilled by either the LRA or the government. Then the obligations of what would constitute the violation of the ceasefire. And then what do we do with the Lord’s Resistance Army? And then how is the ceasefire and all the implementations of the peace agreement going to be monitored?”

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