The mediator of the peace talks between Uganda?s government and the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) rebels says he is optimistic a lasting peace would be found before the end of the year. Riek Marchar, who is also the vice president of Southern Sudan, also says both sides have shown commitment to ending the over twenty years of rebel insurgency in northern Uganda. He said all that is left to be done is for the two parties to work out the modalities of how to implement what they have agreed upon concerning the various items on the agenda.
From the capital, Juba he tells reporter Peter Clottey that despite some problems with the peace talks, he is sure a lasting peace would be reached.
?Definitely, peace would be achieved because the two parties up to now, have signed three agreements; cessation of hostilities which was followed by three addenda, then the other agreement on comprehensive solutions, which address the political issues that brought about the war. And the third agreement is on accountability and reconciliation, which was the most difficult issue, how to address war crimes, and crimes against humanity, these have been resolved,? Marchar pointed out.
He said both the government and the rebels have both been given time off to consult with various stakeholders before the next round of the peace negotiations.
?The two parties were given time to consult with the stakeholders in the peace process. With the LRA, we raised funds through the international community to hold two consultative conferences in Sudan; One is in the assembly area and the other, a follow up conference in Juba,? he said.
Marchar said the peace talks have been temporarily adjourned to enable both parties to have a wide consultation to enable the process to be smooth.
?The delay is that the two parties have reported to me that they are still consulting, and when they resume, they will handle implementation modalities for the two protocols or the two agreements, comprehensive solutions, accountability and reconciliation. After that they would go to the agenda of ceasefire, and disarmament demobilization and integration of demobilized soldiers. So more or less the problematic issues have been resolved, in the first three agendas,? Marchar noted.
He said the International Criminal Court-issued arrest warrant against the top leadership of the LRA has been comprehensively dealt with.
?By the way, we have ended that issue under agenda number three, that is accountability and reconciliation. The two parties have signed an agreement on it. What they still have to do is to ensure that they work out or they agree on the mechanism of implementation on this agenda,? he said.
Marchar said he gave both parties some pieces of advice on what to think about in their deliberations before the peace talks resume.
?As mediator, we have given them a draft suggesting various alternatives, which include traditional mechanisms based on the customary system in the country. We have also proposed a hybrid, a mixture of national laws and the customary laws, but it is left to them,? Marchar said.