Former External Security Organisation (ESO) chief David Pulkol (right) is in the southern Sudanese capital Juba holding indirect talks with LRA, reports Emmy Allio.
Security sources in Juba said Pulkol, who pitched camp in Juba on June 4, a day before the arrival of the five-man LRA delegation, met Sudanâ€™s Vice-President Salva Kiir and South Sudan vice-president Dr. Riak Machar.
Pulkol recently registered a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Africa Leadership Institute (AFLI), which offers consultancy, among others, on security and governance. In another development, former Kenya President Daniel arap Moi, who heads the Moi Foundation that mediates peaceful resolution of conflict in the region, was in Juba on June 3 for talks with Kiir and Machar.
He flew back to Nairobi but left a team behind, presumably to coordinate the LRA peace mission. Moiâ€™s team includes four Europeans and a retired Kenyan army general.
Kampala would not confirm if Pulkol had been sent to Juba by President Yoweri Museveni, who last Thursday said he was not opposed to the negotiations though some of the rebels are wanted for war crimes.
SPLA sources said Pulkol and UPDF liaison officer in Juba, Lt. Col. Rwasante, are conducting indirect talks with the LRA. â€œGroundwork is being prepared for formal talks soon,â€ the source said.
Mediator Machar told London-based Al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper that Juba would host this week talks between LRA and the Government, under Sudanese-international sponsorship.
He said, â€œThe talks begin upon the arrival of the delegation of the Ugandan government, in the presence of international parries, led by Switzerland, Italy, and Norway.â€
He said some European countries supported his initiative to end the war.
But Ugandaâ€™s ambassador in Khartoum, Mull Katende, denied a report in Juba Post that he was due to arrive in Juba to represent Uganda at the talks.
â€œI have no contact with Juba and I am only hearing reports from the press,â€ Katende told Khartoum Monitor.
â€œI have not been approached and there is no link between us,â€ he said.
Juba Post quoted Machar as saying Katende would go to Juba soon to finalise preparations for the talks.
Similarly, Ugandaâ€™s consul to Juba Busho Ndinyenka said, â€œI know nothing about the Juba talks.â€
But embassy officials said Pulkol was in touch with the LRA delegation.
Kiir told The Sudan Tribune: â€œWhat we want is peace and peace has to be negotiated. I donâ€™t want the LRA to remain in southern Sudan. They have been raping women and girls. They have been killing. They have been looting. They have been abducting.â€ He said the opening of the peace talks was a matter of days, even hours.
The Ugandan government has expressed skepticism southern Sudanese mediators would be successful, given the rebelsâ€™ history of rejecting peace efforts.
Security minister Amama Mbabazi last week ruled out amnesty for Joseph Kony and his four top commanders wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
He said besides the ICC indictment, the Ugandan law makes amnesty for Kony and his top four commanders impossible.
Mbabazi warned against the regrouping of the LRA in DR Congoâ€™s Garamba National Park.
Pulkol meets LRA in Juba