Uganda Lord?s Resistance Army rebels (LRA) will begin consultations today with victims of more than 20 years of a rebel insurgency in northern Uganda. The discussions follow talks over the weekend between a rebel delegation and President Yoweri Museveni, aimed at bolstering an adjourned peace conference between the rebels and the government in the southern Sudanese capital, Juba. Today?s consultations form part of the third agenda item of LRA-Kampala dialogue, focusing on bringing accountability and reconciliation to the peace process.
The rebels reiterated their commitment to finding a lasting solution to the violence in northern Uganda, with a historic return to the country after more than 20 years on the run. David Matsanga is the deputy leader of the LRA peace delegation and technical advisor on ICC matters. From the Kenyan capital Nairobi, he tells reporter Peter Clottey that no amount of propaganda can hamper their quest for peace.
?Yes, our consultations will begin today, Monday, with our delegation visiting various places of the country beginning with northern Uganda today, Monday. This has come as a result of two of three agendas; agenda number one, number two, number three, which says accountability and reconciliation of which we are going to ask of views that will combine agenda number two also. So, we want the view from the stakeholders. We want the view from all sections of Uganda. That is why our delegation is in Uganda as we speak now,? Matsanga pointed out.
He described the rebel delegation meeting with President Museveni as cordial and fruitful.
?The delegation that are in Kampala were comfortable with the meeting. They put their stand to President Museveni about the peace process. They reiterated their position about the peace process, and they said they are determined. The delegation has been sent by General Kony, who actually mandated them to go to Uganda to discuss and find views and mobilize people to go to Ri-Kwamgba. And the delegation were very happy with some of the views that were expressed and have also told President Museveni that this is the only way we can solve the crisis that has engulfed the northern and northeastern Uganda for the last 21 years,? he said.
Matsanga said the rebels are determined to find a long-lasting peace to violence-prone northern Uganda, which has recently seen a significant drop in combat since the start of the peace talks in Juba.
?The leaders of the LRA are committed to the peace process. That is why they have allowed the chairman to lead a delegation into Uganda, and that is why they have allowed this mobilization exercise to take place. You know, it is historical. It?s the first time in 21 years that an LRA delegation has officially visited Uganda. So it must be taken as a historical event that has a landmark to peace and a benchmark to peace,? Matsanga noted.
He reiterated the rebels? determination for finding peace to solving the problems in northern Uganda.
?We start peace by showing by showing real practical examples that the LRA is committed to a peace process up to the end, and it is going to start a mobilization exercise today, Monday,? he said.