Uganda’s government has assured victims of the over twenty-years of insurgency that it is determined to find lasting peace so that those victims would return to their villages. The assurance followed a report by Oxfam that victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel insurgency doubt the ongoing peace talks between the government and the LRA would bring lasting peace to northern Uganda. The report also said uncertainty over the prospects for peace had stopped many of the victims from leaving their congested refugee camps.
Ruhakana Rugunda is Uganda’s Internal affairs minister and leader of the government negotiating team with the LRA rebels. From the capital Kampala, he tells reporter Peter Clottey that the government would do everything in its power to bring about peace.
“For the population who have lived under the insurgency and in the camps for quite some time now, their skepticism and doubts are understandable. But it is believed and well known by the people in Uganda and those in the camps that security situation has very much improved, and that the majority of the people who have been living in the camps have now gone to their villages to rebuild their homes. And the remaining would be moving out by the end of the year, as the building materials get ready. So the skepticism is understood, but I want to assure them that the peace proves is on course and that the question of going back to armed conflict is out. And I want to re-assure them that they can go without fear,” Rugunda pointed out.
He said although the government appreciates concerns expressed by the victims of the war, stability, security and normalcy are some of the elements the government is striving at providing for the victims of the LRA insurgency.
“I think with the biggest reassurance government can give is the fact that the peace process is on course, law and order has been and continue to be established in insurgency affected areas. The police are now taking charge of the situation from the army because of the peace that has been established both by the peace process and also by the work of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces,” he explained.
Rugunda said the recent agreement signed between Presidents Yoweri Museveni and Laurent Kabila should have little effect on the peace talks with the LRA rebels.
“The fact that President Museveni and President Kabila have signed an agreement between the two countries to ensure that none of the two countries harbors the enemies of the other is a great agreement, which would promote peace and improve relations between the two countries, and actually improve security in the region. Secondly, Lord’s Resistance Army is not supposed to be in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo). As by the ceasefire agreement that was signed last year, Lord’s Resistance Army is supposed to be assembled in Southern Sudan, and mostly, physically now, in Ri-Kwangba. Therefore, the agreement should not adversely affect the Lord’s Resistance Army, which in any case should be in Southern Sudan and not in the DRC,” Rugunda noted.
He said the agreement signed between the two presidents should enjoy overwhelming support from people who want peace.
“It’s a great agreement, which should be supported by all peace loving people in the region,” he emphasized.