sabato, gennaio 13, 2007

SUDAN-UGANDA: Rebel delegation quits talks, seeks 'neutral' venue

Alcuni di voi mi hanno chiesto aggiornamenti sullo stato dei negoziati per il Nord Uganda che si stanno svolgendo a Juba. Purtroppo le ultime notizie non sono proprio rosee, anche perché stanno tornando a crescere le tensioni tra nord e sud Sudan. La speranza è che questo ritiro del LRA dai colloqui sia semplicemente una delle tante ritirate strategiche che le parti attuano periodicamente per prendere tempo.

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

NAIROBI, 12 January (IRIN) - The Lord's Resistance Army has'disengaged' from peace negotiations with the Ugandan government andwill not continue the process until a neutral host country is found, aspokesman for the rebel group said on Friday."In the circumstances and due to security considerations, [the] LRAdelegation are not going back to Juba but would prefer that the talksresume in a neutral venue, preferably Kenya, South Africa or otherneutral country," Obonyo Olweny, the LRA spokesman, told a newsconference in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.The talks have been going on in the southern Sudan capital of Jubasince July 2006. Olweny said the rebels' decision followed recentcomments by Sudanese President Omar El Bashir and South SudanPresident Salva Kiir Mayardit that the LRA was no longer welcome insouthern Sudan.The Ugandan government said the rebels had misunderstood the Sudaneseposition. "I am very disappointed with the announcement by the LRA,"Okello Oryem, minister of state for international relations and deputyleader of the Ugandan delegation to the talks, told IRIN in Kampala."The statement made by the Sudanese authorities should have been takenin the right context. They said: if there is no peace agreementsigned, then the government will kick out the LRA. This shouldn't havebeen a basis of argument because we are in talks," Oryem added.The head of a northern Uganda peace forum, Acholi Religious Leaders'Peace Initiative, Archbishop John Baptist Odama, said: "The LRA shouldreconsider their demands because the people in northern Uganda areover-anxious to see that the peace process succeeds."Urging the rebels to return to the talks, Odama added: "They shouldtalk over the disagreement instead of pulling out. This is not goingto go down well with the IDPs [internally displaced persons] who haveborne the brunt of the conflict and were over-expectant."An estimated 230,000 IDPs returned to their villages in 2006 asprospects for peace improved with the Juba talks. However, up to 1.2million others are still in camps across northern Uganda.The Nairobi news conference was called by the rebels and Africa PeacePoint, a Kenyan peace mediation NGO.The rebels urged the chairman of the Intergovernmental Authority onDevelopment (IGAD), Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, to convene an IGADconference "to salvage the talks by agreeing to an alternative venue"."The LRA welcomes regional and international support that can help toresolve this horrendous conflict that has stubbornly refused to goaway . for the last 20 years, which resulted in tremendous sufferingto the people of Uganda," Olweny said, reading a statement signed byMartin Ojul, leader of the rebel delegation.Olweny said the LRA would continue to respect the cessation ofhostilities agreement signed in August 2006 and subsequent protocols.Under the deal, LRA combatants were to gather at two assembly pointsin Sudan. However, the fighters have stayed away, accusing the UgandaPeople's Defence Forces (UPDF) of surrounding them.He said the LRA was still committed to a "mediated and negotiated"peace settlement between it and the Ugandan government "as the bestway of bringing total peace to the people of northern and easternUganda in particular and for the rest of the Uganda in general".Regarding indictments by the International Criminal Court (ICC)against four senior LRA officials, including leader Joseph Kony, Ojulsaid the indictments remained an obstacle to peace. He added that ICCinvestigations in northern Uganda were one-sided as they ignoredatrocities committed by the UPDF.The LRA leadership could not sign a peace agreement as long as ICCarrest warrants hung over their heads, Ojul said."We don't deny that the LRA has committed atrocities," he said. "TheUgandan army has also committed many atrocities in the north."Ojul also said he had met the United Nations Secretary-General'sspecial representative to northern Uganda, the former Mozambicanpresident, Joachim Chissano, and had presented him with a memorandumdetailing the LRA's concerns and decision to pull out of the talks inJuba.Olweny maintained that the LRA was a well-structured politicalorganisation whose leadership was working towards a just society inUganda where northern Ugandans, whom he termed "second-classcitizens", were not marginalised and where all Ugandans were unitedand living in peace."The LRA has over time been cast in a bad light as a terroristorganisation and not a liberation movement by the Ugandan government;we strongly object to this," he said.

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