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Uganda:Women Peace Caravan

The Ugandan government has set December first for Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels to assemble at the agreed camps. The Minister of State for Defense Ruth Nankabirwa says the government would withdraw from the Southern Sudan mediated peace process if the rebels do not assemble by December first as required by a new extension to the August 26 truce. Meanwhile, a caravan of Ugandan women has begun a five-day peace journey to the South Sudan capital of Juba. Hope Mwesigye is the Ugandan minister of state in charge of local government. She explains to VOA English to Africa reporter James Butty the reason for the women’s peace caravan.

“The purpose is to demonstrate that Ugandan women are supportive of the peace talks that are taking place between the government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army. And to show the whole world that we need support from both sides as well as creating awareness among the population that Kony has caused enough suffering for the people of Northern Uganda and that it’s high time that the suffering came to an end,” she said.

Mwesigye says the peace caravan to Juba is made up of women from every aspect of the Ugandan society.

“The delegation is made up of members of parliament from all the parties, the ruling party and the opposition party and its members, women leaders in the civil society organizations. It is a combination of all women. So that says that irrespective of one’s political trade, one’s religious belief, one’s social status, all the women of Uganda have come together to demonstrate and empathize with the people of Northern Uganda,” Mwesigye said.

She says the women on the so-called solidarity journey would make a difference in the Juba peace negotiations.

“I am confident that the Juba peace talks will yield positive results. But of course also as women, we have said that it’s high time that everybody came together irrespective of sex, irrespective of gender relations, irrespective of religion, irrespective of where one comes from, that we could also show our commitment to the process, and by everybody else showing commitment to the process, we hope that we can achieve peace,” Mwesigye said.

Mwesigye says while in Juba, the women will meet with both sides in the peace talks to express their desire that the Ugandan people have had enough of the 20 year-old conflict in Northern Uganda.

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