Victims of Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels are reportedly concerned that news of the demise of the LRA’s second in command could potentiality undermine the ongoing peace negations between the rebels and the government. Vincent Otti was regarded as the brain behind the peace talks, which are aimed at resolving the over two decades of LRA insurgency in Northern Uganda. Southern Sudan Vice President Riek Marchar confirmed the news of Otti’s death after consultations with LRA commander Joseph Kony. David Matsanga is the leader of the LRA delegation to the peace talks with Uganda’s government. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the Southern Sudanese capital of Juba that Otti’s demise would not hinder the progress of the peace talks.
“I will like to tell you and officially now tell the world that Vincent Otti is absent, he is not there anymore. And he is not with the LRA anymore and therefore he is not there, and he is actually absent,” Matsanga said.
He said it would be improper for him to engage in guesswork about what caused Otti’s demise or who becomes the next second in command of the rebels.
“I would not like to speculate who is taking his place, but the code of conduct of the LRA is that appointments are made by the high command. And the high command should by now put in place who is number two. I don’t want to speculate and I don’t want to discuss. We are not privy to the information of discussing how he died. But we have been officially told and as Dr. Riek Marchar said this morning, and as the high command has conveyed their message to the world that Vincent Otti is absent,” he noted.
Matsanga denied the death of the former rebel second in command would hamper the progress of the adjourned peace talks.
“There is nothing like potentially undermining the peace talks. These peace talks are sold, sold like a rock of river Nile. I would like to assure the people of northern Uganda, the entire country and the entire international community that these peace talks will not collapse. We as the LRA delegation forcefully and with strength with all our heart and with all our faith we have faced in the peace process. We have got difficulties, yes like the ICC (International Criminal Court) and other things, which we know are still obstacles. But we are determined to have the peace process concluded conclusively and make it very clear to the people of Uganda that we shall not disappoint them. But we shall get peace at the end of the day and they should not be worried,” Matsanga said.
He said the rebel delegation to the peace talks with the government is hopeful to have a lasting solution to the northern Uganda conflict, which has persisted for over 20 years.
“As you know we are peace lovers. Everything has been laid on the table, we have already discussed agenda number one, we have finished agenda number two, number three and we are now heading for agenda number four of ceasefire and DDR (Disarmament, Demobilization, and Re-integration), which is number five. We want to expeditiously finish these agendas so we would want to hammer word by word through comprehensive solutions. Look at them, the root causes of the war. Why did the root causes of the war occur? Museveni (Uganda’s president) came and attack the people of northern Uganda who have been very peaceful. These must be addressed Matsanga pointed out.
Matsanga has now been elevated to the position of the leader of the rebel delegation to the peace talks with the government after Kony accused Martin Ojul the former delegation leader of taking monies meant for the rebels.