15 April 2007

Uganda: Govt, LRA Talks Underway

Kampala — The LRA have agreed to resume peace talks with the government in Juba on April 25, the UN special envoy, Joachim Chissano, has said.

He made the disclosure at the end of a two-day meeting between a Uganda government delegation and Lord's Resistance Army rebels at Ri Kwangbar, at the border of Southern Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Kampala delegation and the rebels also agreed to extend the secession of hostilities agreement -- which had expired -- to June 30 this year.

The two sides also agreed that five countries would act as observers during the peace negotiating process, which resumes on April 26. These would include Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"Four of the five countries attended except DR Congo but I hope they will send a representative on April 26," Mr Chissano told journalists last evening.

The main mediators were Mr Chissano, the former President of Mozambique, and Dr Riek Machar, the Vice President of South Sudan. The Uganda government delegation comprised Internal Affairs Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, and Mr Henry Okello Oryem, the Minister of State for International Affairs.

Gulu LC5 chairman Norbert Mao said: "It is a major breakthrough and the talks have survived a major test."

Mr Chissano added thus: "The same countries that have attended as observers will send military delegations to join the secession of hostilities agreement military team."

He also said that it had been agreed that Ri Kwangba acts as the LRA's assembly point. On the issue of the LRA peace delegation in Juba, the meeting agreed that their security remains the responsibility of the government of South Sudan.

The UN would, however, help "where possible."

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