The Chief mediator of the Uganda peace talks, South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar, says while the talks have been challenging to implement, they hold the key to bringing about a sustainable resolution to the long-runing Northern Ugandan conflict. In a report on the status of the peace process, Machar said since the departure of the LRA from Northern Uganda under the Juba peace process, the area has seen an improvement in security.
He said Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel leader Joseph Kony's consecutive failures to appear for planned meetings has been a serious disappointment to many. But Mr. Machar said the priority now should be on getting the LRA to commit itself to full implementation of the agreement.
Meanwhile, chief LRA peace negotiator David Matsanga told that the Ugandan army has mobilized to launch an attack on LRA positions.
“The Ugandan government has declared that it wants to attack the Lord’s Resistance Army, which is a provocation of the cessation of hostilities agreement. General Joseph Kony has not left the designated area to go fight the Uganda People’s Defense Forces,” He said.
Matsanga said Kony has not returned to the peace talks because he wants guarantees from the African Union about the International Criminal Court’s indictments hanging over Kony and some of his top commanders.
“I want to tell the international community that last Friday I made an effort to go and brief the chairman of the African Union, President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania to provide him with full copies of the agreement that was signed in Juba. Doctor Riek Machar has done his part, but General Joseph Kony wants guarantees. And General Joseph Kony has said that now that negotiations are over, it can be signed somewhere in a place that will be chosen which is not necessarily Juba. Not because they don’t appreciate what the government of Southern Sudan has done, but they want to seek other alternatives because of the hostilities between LRA and SPLM (Sudan People’s Liberation Army) cannot allow them to sign an agreement in Sudan,” Matsanga said.
He said allegations by Ugandan army chief General Aronda Nyakairima that the LRA had crossed into Uganda in an attempt to retrieve their buried weapons.
“That is a total lie. The troops of General Joseph Kony are in assembled area, although there was a skirmish where they were attacked and they defended themselves. And let me tell the world why the skirmishes took place is because the UPDF had an informer who had been there and informing on the LRA,” he said.
Matsanga denied allegations that LRA leader Kony has been moving the goal post so as not to sign the final agreement.
“General Joseph Kony is interested in signing the agreement. He only needs clarification. But at the moment, the relationship between General Joseph Kony and the chief mediator is not good. I have to be very frank to the world. They have not talked for some time, and that is very, very bad for any peace process,” Matsanga said.
He denied that Kony does not trust Machar or is looking for a new peace mediator.
“I did not say he does not trust him; he has no confidence in Dr. Riek Machar. But he says it is impossible to sign an agreement in Southern Sudan giving that the SPLA is fighting the LRA in an unprovoked attack,” Matsanga said.