New Vision (Kampala)

16 October 2012

Uganda: Resume Peace Talks to End LRA War - NGO

The director of SAIPED, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) at Dungu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Fr. Ernest Sugule, has called for the revival of peace talks with the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels.

Sugule was speaking at a meeting organized by Gulu district reconciliation and peace team (DRPT), Acholi religious leaders' peace initiative and Ker Kwaro Acholi in partnership with the Invisible Children Uganda on Thursday.

The meeting was to report back on the regional peace building and reconciliation consultative meeting held from September 3 to 6 at Bangui in Central African Republic (CAR) following LRA's insurgency in CAR and DRC.

"We have to use all the means to bring peace and end the LRA insurgency in the Great Lakes region but I see that peace talks are the best option. Peace talks will bring them out all at once unlike other means like military action that will see a few rebels killed or captives rescued at a time," Fr Sugule said.

Sugule also appealed to the Government of Uganda to restore the blanket amnesty to provide safer landing for the LRA returnees.

"I want to insist that amnesty is still very important to even us in the DRC because we are the ones suffering a lot in the hands of the LRA. Our government does not recorgnise LRA as a big threat so we can't advocate for amnesty in Congo," Sugule said.

Abim district LC5 chairman Norman Ochero said LRA leader Joseph Kony is possessed by super-natural powers that calls for prayers.

"We should not underestimate that Kony has supernatural powers that have enabled him to exist to date, so religious leaders should pray hard as other means are being used," Ochero said.

The UPDF 4th division commander Col. Fenekasi Mugyenyi however disagreed with Ochero. "Kony has no supernatural powers but he is using all ways to hide because he knows he has committed crimes. We don't believe in evil spirits, if he (Kony) had that spirit he should not have run away from here," Mugyenyi said.

The bishop of northern Uganda diocese Johnson Gakumba also dismissed the claim saying, "It is just a belief but Kony has no supernatural powers. We have visited the hills where he is said to get his powers from and prayed there but nothing happened to us."

The meeting brought together religious, cultural and political leaders and civil society organisations to discuss ways of getting an end to the LRA insurgency in the Great Lakes region.

Two former LRA captives Godfrey Okello 22 and Patrick Ojok 24 also testified during the meeting saying if Kony is to come out, he should be pursued peacefully.

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