The chief mediator of the peace talks between the Ugandan government and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels said LRA leader Joseph Kony is committed to the peace process but wants guarantees of his personal security. South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar also said Kony sent him a message through an intermediary requesting an April 26 meeting with Machar and religious and cultural leaders from northern Uganda to get further clarification on issues relating to the peace agreement.
Kony failed last week to sign the final peace deal that would have ended more than 22 years of civil war in northern Uganda.
Meanwhile, the former LRA chief peace negotiator who either resigned or was fired last week has been reacting to news reports that he was caught with $20,000 and a sealed letter to LRA leader Kony from President Museveni. David Matsanga told VOA that contrary to news reports, he was not fired by Kony.
“I have not had any telephone call from General Joseph Kony. He actually appointed me and told me that I have been appointed as the chief negotiator. Now I expect another call from him to say you have been sacked. I have no ill feelings against General Joseph Kony. I respect the peace process, and I respect his decision. If he feels that the people like Dr. Obita (James, technical advisor to the LRA) and others who can handle this matter effectively as the Acholi Tribe (of northern Uganda), I am happy,” he said.
Matsanga, who said he is the only southern Ugandan who has actually supported the cause of the people of northern Uganda, said he will continue to work for peace even outside the LRA peace delegation.
He denied he was arrested at Juba International Airport carrying a sealed envelope with $20,000 in it for LRA leader Kony from President Museveni.
“I have never received such amount anything of that nature. I have never received any letter addressed to General Joseph Kony. The letters that I have received are addressed to Dr. Nyekorach Matsanga as the leader of the delegation. There is no letter that has been addressed to General Kony, and I have never, ever, ever seen Museveni for 22 years. I have never sat with him; I have never shaken his hand. And I want to tell the world that I have disagreed with President Museveni and I will not actually at any time have any room to sit with President Museveni to have a letter handed over to me,” he said.
Matsanga blamed other LRA advisors from Kony’s Acholi Tribe for creating the confusion.
“This is a confusion created by people who are tribalists. A cocoon of tribalists who have sat down and they think that if Matsanga were to sign this agreement on behalf of General Joseph Kony, they would loose out,” Matsanga said.
He said he has no regret for working LRA leader Kony and the peace process.
“I have no regret because wherever they go they will sign my agreement because let me tell you it was me who negotiated it. They were not speaking. Martin (Ojul, Kony’s former peace negotiator) does not speak. Obita does not speak. All these Acholis on the negotiating team none of them speak for Kony; none of them defend Kony. I have been speaking for Kony; I have been attacking the Ugandan government; I have been attacking Museveni on the negotiating table. So I have no regrets at all for anything that I have done in the protection of Kony,” Matsanga.
Matsanga said he will continue to give advice to Kony and the LRA whether or not he is a member of the LRA peace negotiating team.