Eight members of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) delegation to the Juba peace talks quit late last week, citing dissatisfaction with LRA leader Joseph Kony and chief LRA negotiator David Matsanga. Matsanga quit his position after a failed attempt to convince Kony to sign a final agreement in April, but in recent weeks has claimed to have regained Kony's confidence.
The quitting LRA delegation members blamed Kony for the faltering effort to end the over 22-year civil war in northern Uganda. But Matsanga told VOA the eight departing LRA negotiators are money diggers who were asked to leave because they tried to conclude an agreement with the Ugandan government without the approval of rebel leader Joseph Kony.
"After my (re) appointment, all of us agreed that we should embark on a trip to go to Juba (South Sudan's capital) to talk to the chief mediator (South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar) and to talk to with (former Mozambican) President Chissano so that we can put back the peace process. Then what has happened is that they went to Kampala without the authority of the chairman. They wanted to implement the agreement without the signature of General Joseph Kony. And therefore as chairman of the delegation, I got instructions from the high command that those who don't want to be on the committee might as well not be there, but not to go through the back door to implement the agreement," he said.
Matsanga refuted the LRA negotiating defectors' claim that Kony was responsible for the wavering Juba peace process. In stead he said the former negotiators have rebelled against Kony.
"General Joseph Kony in his radio interview on the 22nd with Radio France said he wants peace and would not fight again, and he wants to negotiate and sign this agreement. These who have done so have rebelled against the instructions of General Joseph Kony's instructions, and therefore they are no longer welcome to discuss anything regarding the peace process," Matsanga said.
He appealed to the international community to continue to support the Juba peace process, including providing food and other supplies to LRA fighters who he said are assembled on the Sudan-DRC border.
"The LRA at the moment, my priority is to get food to the troops who are assembled in Ri-Kwanba. They need medicine; they need clothes at the moment so that they continue to assemble in Ri-Kwanba while we finish up the arrangement. Priority number two is to make sure that I sign the cessation of hostility arrangement so the UPDF does not attack General Joseph Kony," he said.
Matsanga dismissed the suggestion that he and Kony were misleading the international community by not delivering on their repeated promises of a final peace deal.
"Let me tell you that the international community, Britain, America and AU (African Union) and all the countries in the world know that I'm the one who negotiated and who's determined to find the peace. Therefore, I have not played with the minds of the international community. I am not a warmonger; I'm a peace negotiator; I'm not a combatant, and I don't direct General Joseph Kony to do anything or confuse him to do anything," He said.
Matsanga said at the moment the LRA would like for the international community to continue funding the peace process, including sending food to LRA fighters who he said are moving in large numbers to assembly points in the Sudan-DRC border town of Ri-Kwanba awaiting disarmament and other procedures that will follow after signing a final peace agreement.
He again described the International Criminal Court's indictments against Kony and his chief lieutenants as flawed and should be lifted.