The Ugandan government and Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels are set to restart their stalled peace talks in the Southern Sudanese city of Juba today (Thursday). This comes after the rebels walked out of the peace talks three months ago, claiming they lost confidence in mediator Riek Machar, who is also the President of Southern Sudan. Both the government and the rebels recently signed a deal to extend a cessation of hostilities agreement after the intervention of former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano. Meanwhile, the rebels have asked that the arrest warrants against their top leadership be suspended.
Uganda’s Minister for Internal Affairs Ruhakana Rugunda, who leads the government’s negotiating team, tells the Voice of America that the former Mozambican President played a significant role in arranging the resumption of peace talks with the rebels.
“That’s true that the stalled peace talks between the government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army will resume in Juba today. This has come as a result of the intervention by President Chissano, in his capacity as the UN Secretary General’s special envoy to the Lord’s Resistance Army affected areas,” Rugunda pointed out.
He said the talks would commence from where the rebels began their boycott and follow the same agenda.
“We will begin the discussions with the comprehensive solutions, which is agenda item number two. And this covers the solutions to the conflict in northern Uganda. And we are really concluding that agenda item. And we will go straight away after that to accountability and reconciliation. This is where we would try and rationale a basis of justice and also of accountability. Then we would proceed to other agenda items,” he noted.
With the resumption of the stalled peace talks, he said there is a lot to hope for.
“I think the prospects are good, and we look forward to moving quickly to conclude a peace agreement that will formally restore peace and normalcy in northern Uganda,” he said.
Rugunda explains the Ugandan government’s position on International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrants for the LRA’s top leadership.
“Really, the government of Uganda is looking for a solution that would ensure that impunity is not in any way condoned. So we are looking for justice. We are looking for peace, and we want to ensure that there is no impunity that is condoned. And Uganda as a member state of the ICC, will work closely with the ICC, executing its obligations as a member state, to ensure that peace and justice are accomplished,” he said.