The next round of peace talks between the Ugandan government and the Lord?s Resistance Army rebels (LRA) begins today (Monday) amid government accusation that the rebels have broken a recently signed truce by attacking civilians in Democratic Republic of Congo. The Ugandan government said the attack violated the cessation of hostilities agreement, which is the third agenda item at the ongoing peace talks. The talks, being held in the Southern Sudanese capital, Juba aim to find a lasting solution to over two decades of rebel insurgency in northern Uganda.
David Matsanga is the leader of the LRA rebel peace negotiating team with the government. From Juba, he tells reporter Peter Clottey that the government?s accusation is baseless.
?The accusations that have been leveled on the Lord?s Resistance Army of late are accusations that are imaginary. They are not there. I have just arrived from Ri-Kwamgba where we went with a 12-man delegation to go and meet the leadership of the LRA, and where we had a conclusive meeting. All our troops are assembled in Ri-Kwamgba there are no troops anywhere outside Ri-Kwamgba area except the designated area where they said they (rebels) should assemble,? Matsanga said.
He said the LRA high command has given him the mandate to negotiate with the Ugandan government to find a lasting solution to the northern Uganda conflict.
?As I speak with you now, I have all the full confidence, the full powers to talk and discuss everything that the LRA is being accused of,? he noted.
Matsanga dismissed as unfortunate government accusation that the LRA rebels have been attacking innocent civilians in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.
?Let me tell you that the CHMT, which is the observer team the monitoring team for the cessation of hostilities agreement composed of countries such as South Africa, Tanzania, Congo, Mozambique, Kenya and Southern Sudan. They have actually investigated these allegations, their report is very clear and they have vindicated the LRA and they said that the LRA was not responsible for those actions,? Matsanga pointed out.
He blamed the alleged attacks on what he described as renegade rebels roaming in the Sudan.
?It is a certain group lawless people in Southern Sudan. There are many groups in Southern Sudan, which are lawless not only the LRA that has been operating there, but many other groups that have been prepared to disrupt the peace process that is taking place in Juba,? he said.