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Uganda Mediator Raises Hopes for Peace Talks to Restart Soon

The mediator between Uganda’s government and Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels says the adjourned peace talks will soon recommence. Riek Machar, who is also the Vice President of Southern Sudan, said he explained to the LRA delegation that visited him on Tuesday that a programming change caused funds earmarked for consultation to be delayed. Rebels had warned that failure to give them the funds allotted for consultation could potentially derail the talks since President Yoweri Museveni’s government has concluded its part of the consultation process.

The consultation forms part of the accountability and reconciliation process, third item on the negotiating agenda. From the Southern Sudanese capital Juba, Riek Machar tells reporter Peter Clottey all is set for the LRA rebels to begin their consultation.

“We were supposed to give them funds for their consultation and which is actually mobilization in Uganda, particularly the northern and northeast of Uganda, which is about 97,000 pounds (about $198,000). We changed program because they (LRA) were planning for more expensive consultation, similar to what the government had done. We also decided that it may be best if the LRA is accompanied by some of the AU (African Union) observers to the peace talks,” Marchar noted.

He said the mediation team put mechanisms in place to make things smoother for the rebels to hold their consultative meetings.

“We were also sending 15 members of the CHMT, which is the Cessation of Hostilities Monitoring Team. We believed that the funds they first requested for mobilization may not be enough. And since the program has become extensive and involves others, we chose that the funds are handled in the same manner the funds which were used by the government were handled,” Machar explained.

Machar said the LRA delegation that visited him wanted to ascertain why the funds allotted to them for consultation were delayed.

“They sent me a delegation to find an explanation why the funds were not handed over to them similar to what we did to the external trip which they are making. They then sent a delegation to their leader Joseph Kony and today they came back from consultation with their leaders. And I’m hoping they will come to Juba on Wednesday. And then they would leave, hopefully the same day for Kampala,” Machar pointed out.

He said the change in the mediation team plan was for the good of the rebels.

“Initially, we disbursed funds quickly. But I think the way we are doing it should be good for them, because the money they initially requested for was little for the work they are they are now going to do,” he said.

Machar said he is confident the rebels would finish their consultation in time for the recommencement of the next round of peace talks.

“I believe they would do so. The government has finished consultation because they started from the 13th of August and they ended on the 27th of September, which was very extensive in the 10 consultative conferences. I’m hoping that the LRA would also make use of the results of the consultation made by the government,” Machar noted.