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Uganda’s LRA Rebels Say They Are Ready for Peace

Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels are blaming the accounting office of the United Nations mission in the southern Sudanese capital of Juba for been behind the postponement of next week’s peace talks. The rebels say although they are not part of the peace process for monetary gains, their allowances and consultation fees have not been paid for one month. The LRA says the allowances were approved by the mediator and agreed upon in agenda item number two. The LRA denies pulling out of the current peace talks and reaffirmed that they are committed to finding a lasting peace to the over a decade long conflict in northern Uganda.

David Matsanga is a technical advisor to the rebels on ICC matters. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that the LRA is not using the issue of allowance to stall the peace process as has been speculated by some.

“That is completely stupid and narrow for anybody to say we are buying time. We are committed to a peace process, and I want to tell the international community that there is nobody in the LRA delegation, and in the LRA high command who is buying time. If there is anybody who is buying time it is the Uganda government and the donors who are conniving to buy time, not us,” Matsanga noted.

He denied the rebels are undermining the peace process because the ICC (International Criminals Court)-issued warrants against the LRA’s top leadership.

“I think that is a total misconception, and those people who are thinking like that don’t know anything about an agreement, don’t know anything about principles. They are naïve because they don’t understand what we have been doing. We have been saying and the Ugandan government signed to the document and which we have. We signed a comprehensive solution, the comprehensive solution says one, we shall hold a stakeholders conference full stop. And this stakeholders conference is to gain knowledge about how we are going to deal with mechanisms implementation protocol,” he said.

Matsanga dismissed speculations that the peace process has been postponed.

“Nobody has postponed the peace process; we have only said that there is a problem with the accounting system of the United Nations. The Ugandan government knows about what is going on in Juba. People are not looking for money; people have gone to Juba to look for peace,” Matsanga pointed out.

He said the rebels are grateful for the international community’s contribution towards the peace negotiations, but blamed the UN’s mission for being the cause of the controversy surrounding the peace process.

“I want to tell you one thing, and tell the international community, those donors who are listening, (that) we appreciate the donation that you have contributed to the peace process. Dr. Rieke Marchar has done his best, but the problem is that the accounting of the United Nations that gives the money is where the problem is. We have not pulled out of the peace process at all. We are in the peace process, and we are going to engage the Ugandan government up to the last minute,” he said.

Matsanga said allowances meant for the LRA delegation have not been paid for sometime, and this he said would jeopardize the peace negotiations.

“Let me tell you the truth, you want the truth? Let the world hear. For two to three weeks the people have not been paid for their allowances. You want the truth? That is the truth now. They have not been paid their consultative money. You want me to tell you further that the UN mechanism in Juba is undermining the pace process. It is not the LRA; Dr. Rieke Marchar has tried to do his level best to make sure that he approves (allowances). When Dr. Rieke Marchar approves this thing it means they are genuine thing, he is the man in charge of the peace process. Why does the UN or anybody doubt Dr. Rieke Marchar? You tell me why do they doubt him?” Matsanga said.