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Peace talks resume

By Vision Reporter

Added 14th December 2006 03:00 AM

PEACE talks with the LRA resume today in Juba, the provincial capital in South Sudan, the Government chief negotiator, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, announced yesterday.

PEACE talks with the LRA resume today in Juba, the provincial capital in South Sudan, the Government chief negotiator, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, announced yesterday.

By Henry Mukasa and Chris Ocowun

PEACE talks with the LRA resume today in Juba, the provincial capital in South Sudan, the Government chief negotiator, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, announced yesterday.

“We are going to Juba tomorrow (Thursday) and the discussions will resume,” Rugunda told a press conference at the Media Centre in Kampala.

Meanwhile, the army reported that three Ugandan lorries were ambushed on the Juba-Torit road in South Sudan in two separate incidents. The trucks, loaded with merchandise, were looted and burned and an unknown number of passengers went missing.

“We received confirmation that they were LRA,” said UPDF spokesman Maj. Felix Kulayigye.

“Our forces in South Sudan are pursuing them. We need to rescue the people who were abducted. We also need to recover the goods they looted.”

The attacks, the latest in a series of ambushes in South Sudan, are likely to cast a shadow over the resumption of the peace talks, which have been limping on for five months.

The LRA delegation suspended their participation on November 29, accusing the UPDF of attacking their fighters on the way to Owiny Ki-Bul, one of the assembly points.

The monitoring team, however, established that the clashes had taken place east of Juba, over 100km from Owiny Ki-Bul, an area where the LRA was not supposed to be.

Dismissing reports that the talks were about to collapse, Rugunda said he was hopeful, considering the confidence-building measures that had been undertaken during the recess.

He referred to a telephone conversation last Sunday between President Yoweri Museveni and the LRA’s second-in-command, Vincent Otti, the first ever direct talks between the head of state and LRA leadership.

“It raised the tempo and the level of the talks,” Rugunda said.

He also cited the visit of Kony’s mother, Nora Anek, to her son in his hide-out in Garamba, DR Congo. The visit was led by Gulu RCD Col. Walter Ochora.

Anek told her son to stop fighting and have direct talks with Museveni. She also insisted a peace agreement should be signed within two weeks.

“The mother appears to be making a significant contribution to the peace process,” Rugunda said.

The parties are today scheduled to review the cessation of hostilities pact and conclude the discussions on finding solutions to the causes of the war.

They will then move on to the next topics on the agenda: accountability and reconciliation, the ceasefire and the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of the LRA.

Rugunda refuted allegations by the LRA that the UPDF, along with the SPLA, Congolese militias and UN peacekeepers, were closing in on their hide-out in DRC.

“UPDF in uniting with SPLA, Congolese militia and MONUC to attack and arrest some of us and hand us over to the International Criminal Court,” Otti claimed on Radio Mega FM in Gulu on Tuesday night.

“It is not correct,” Rugunda reacted.

“UPDF would not do anything that undermines what the Government is involved in. It is part of (their) tactics to derail the process and cause mistrust.”

State minister for foreign affairs Henry Okello Oryem criticised his colleagues in the north for spreading false allegations of land grabbing by the Government.

“If I am to use a diplomatic word: it is hogwash. It is not true. It is rubbish. Their talk is diversionary. It could be used by the LRA to delay the peace talks.”

Peace talks resume

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