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Uganda Rebel Leader Fails to Communicate With UN Envoy

The United Nations special envoy to the peace negotiations between Uganda's government and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is reportedly frustrated after the rebel leader failed to meet with him. Rebel leader Joseph Kony promised UN envoy Joachim Chissano as well as talks mediator Riek Machar that he would call them to move the stalled peace process forward and possibly sign the final peace deal. But Kony has so far failed to do so. The rebel delegation at the talks in the Southern Sudanese capital, Juba is not sure what is causing their leader's failure to make the much-anticipated call to the negotiators.

David Matsanga is the leader of the rebel delegation to the talks. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that recent violent clashes in the Democratic Republic of Congo could be the reason for Kony's delay in communicating.

"It is true that General Joseph Kony made an appointment with us so that we can proceed and look at the agreement. First meet the negotiating team and later on meet the negotiator and then the UN envoy in the region and that is very correct. And we are still here waiting for that telephone call on when he would actually talk to us," Matsanga said.

He said the rebel delegation is committed to the peace talks despite the delay in their leader's communication.

"The peace is a long process, and all we are saying is that we shall continue with our open way of discussion. The vice president of the republic of Southern Sudan has said he would continue with negotiations as the chief mediator and UN envoy have all said general Joseph Kony must contact us, so that he tells us the position on how we should proceed. As a delegation, we are all seated in Juba, waiting for that call to come," he noted.

Matsanga said there are a number of possible reasons why the rebel leader has so far failed to make contact with negotiators currently in Juba.

"I think the communication breakdown is due to a number of factors, which would be that it might be raining. And two, it might be that the type of sunshine that could allow the batteries of his phone to charge is not there. And three it could also be that there was attempted threat by MONUC (UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo) causing general Joseph Kony not to come down to talk to us. But he would make contact and we are still waiting for the contact to be made. And we are ready to take the first helicopter to meet him at any time when he makes that call," Matsanga pointed out.

He said the currently stalled peace negotiations would continue even if the rebel leader fails to make the much-anticipated call.

"The peace process still continues. For us, we have not been told that the peace process is dead because general Joseph Kony on 12th of June said the peace process will continue to be there and he wants to resolve this issue by discussion not by military means. And I would therefore urge all the parties to hold restraint," he said.

Matsanga said the rebels are committed to the peace negotiations to find a lasting solution to the over two-decade LRA insurgency. But he said the LRA would not lay down arms unless the Ugandan government lives up to its part of the peace deal.

"One thing that I would want to bring to notice is that the international community is running out of time against us (LRA rebels). The international community is saying we have got to sign the agreement in order for the Ugandan government to go to the United Nations Security Council to remove the indictment. And general Joseph Kony knows that we sign the agreement, but we don't surrender the guns until the Uganda government goes to the United Nations Security Council, removes the warrant then we can start doing the DDR (Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration of ex-combatants), and that is the position of the LRA," Matsanga noted.

The renewed initiative to sign the final agreement reportedly came from LRA rebel leader Kony himself, who contacted the chief mediator Riek Machar for a team to be dispatched.