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Uganda Government Denies Secret Meetings With Rebel Delegation Leader

In Uganda, reports of secret meetings between President Yoweri Museveni and the leader of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is generating controversy. James Obita, who is the leader of the LRA peace negotiating team with the government, is reported to be holding secret meetings with the government over two million dollars, which is said to have been frozen when President Museveni first came to power. But the government has denied ever holding secret meetings with Obita.

Some political analysts say speculations surrounding the meetings could potentially undermine the adjourned peace talks expected to begin next week. Amama Mbabazi is Uganda’s minister for security. From the capital Kampala he tells reporter Peter Clottey that he is not aware of any secret meetings.

“I have not heard of it at all. I saw something in the papers, but I think it was just speculation. I don’t believe that Dr. Obita has two million dollars at the time that we took power, and I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Obita in the first direct talks between the LRA and government in 1997 and he didn’t raise that. I doubt if it is a true story,” he noted.

He denied President Museveni has instituted a committee to investigate whether Obita’s money was frozen.

“I haven’t heard about it and therefore doubt it very much. First of all it’s not true that we froze anyone’s money. When we took power, we did not freeze accounts of anybody. And I think Dr. Obita was in Uganda for sometime, and if I recollect very well he left in circumstances that revolved around differences between him and his partners in business. And it had noting to do with government,” he said.

Mbabazi said he does not expect what he described as negative speculations to hamper the adjourned peace talks between the government and the rebels.

“I hope not. I hope it certainly doesn’t disturb it,” Mbabazi opined.

He said he soon expects a resumption of peace negotiations between the government and the rebels, in the Southern Sudanese capital, Juba.

“This process of consultation by the LRA representatives was part of the peace process negotiations in Juba, and now that it has been completed, our expectation is that they go back and report to the principals and then may be in the next couple of days or weeks we should have the peace talks in Juba resumed,” he pointed out.