Uganda Elders Seek LRA Talks, Officials Reject Efforts
By Geof Magga
The people in northern Uganda, where the rebel group Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) fought Ugandan government troops for over twenty years, want the peace talks between government and the rebels revisited.
They say that the unconcluded peace talks between the government and LRA is still a threat to peace in northern Uganda.
Since 1986 LRA rebels have engaged Uganda government in a civil war in which thousands of people have been killed and over 2 million forced to live in internally displaced people’s camps. In 2006 the rebels agreed to talk peace with Uganda governed.
The peace talks took place in southern Sudan capital of Juba for almost two years and were concluded in early 2008 but LRA rebel leader Joseph Kony refused to sign the final peace agreement.
His refusal led to a joint force of Ugandan, Southern Sudanese and Democratic Republic of Congo troops to attack the rebels’ bases in Garamba forest in Congo near the border with southern Sudan.
The rebels ran in disarray and since then have split in small groups and resumed attacking villages in Congo and southern Sudan.
Speaking on behalf of elders, Henry Otto Senior said, "Although at the moment there is peace in Uganda because the rebels are no longer there, they are still active in southern Sudan and Democratic republic of Congo. Any time they can come back and cause havoc here."
Acholi religious peace initiative vice chairman, Musa Khalil also expresses similar concerns: "The presence of rebels in Democratic republic of Congo and southern Sudan is still a threat to security to people in northern Uganda. We wish the government and rebels can return to the negotiating table and sign the peace agreement. That would guarantee lasting peace in the region and the country at large."
But Uganda army spokesman, Lt colonel Felix Kulaigye assured Ugandans that the rebels can not come back to Uganda. "The LRA rebels are not in Congo for a picnic. They are there because they were defeated in Uganda and they are on the run. They are being pursued wherever they are. I assure Ugandans that the rebels will not come back to disturb peace in the country," Kulaigye said.