Govt, LRA Sign Second Agreement
The Monitor (Kampala) NEWS
May 3, 2007
By Grace Matsiko
The government and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army last night signed another landmark agreement on Comprehensive Solutions to the Northern Uganda conflict.
This is the second in weeks after both sides endorsed an extension to the ceasefire agreement recently.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (in charge International Affairs) Henry Oryem Okello signed on behalf of the government while Martin Ojul, the LRA's peace delegation chairman signed for the rebels, in Juba.
It was witnessed by Vice-President of Southern Sudan and chief mediator Riek Machar, observers from Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa and Tanzania.
By press time, the final copy of the agreement had not been accessed but according to a draft copy which was agreed upon in principle, the government agreed to provide protection to the LRA leaders, combatants and personnel during the transition from conflict to peace, once a final agreement has been signed.
"This is a major breakthrough to both delegations," LRA's David Nyekorach Matsanga said.
"This is a major success," Matsanga's colleague, James Obita added.
The two delegates were involved in ending an impasse in agreeing to the shape the agreement will take.
The agreement on comprehensive solutions handles issues of participation in national politics, system of government, inclusiveness in participation in the government, ensuring equal opportunities, participation in state institutions, the judiciary, security organs, Internally Displaced Persons, reconstruction of Northern Uganda, land and restocking of cattle in the war affected areas.
"The parties agree that members of the LRA who are willing and qualify shall be integrated into the national armed forces and other security agencies in accordance with subsequent agreements between the parties" the draft copy obtained by Daily Monitor indicates.
The two parties also agreed that the children of the departed LRA combatants shall benefit alongside other conflict-affected children from the Universal Primary Education and Universal Post-Primary Education and Training.
On land, the parties agreed that fair and equitable compensation shall be payable in case of expropriation of land.
"No expropriation shall be allowed except in the public interest and in accordance with the law" the agreement reads.
It states that land owners whose land has been used for settlement of IDPs or establishment of barracks and detaches, will be entitled to repossess their land or to receive fair and just compensation.
"The government shall strengthen and fast track re-stocking programmes in the affected areas by committing additional resources to mitigate the effect of losses of livestock taking into account individual losses and the need to improve the quality of livestock in the affected areas," the draft copy of the agreement said.
"The parties affirm the principle of proportional representation and agree to adopt security measures.
On the system of governance, the parties agreed that government shall, through the Equal Opportunities Commission, review and assess the nature and extent of any regional or ethnic imbalances and disparities in participation in central government institutions and shall take all necessary steps to remedy any anomalies.
The parties affirmed the principle of proportional representation of all the regions in the armed forces and other security agencies as a guarantee for sustainable stability in the country.
The two groups also agreed that recovery programmes for Northern Uganda are implemented expeditiously and where necessary "fast tracked" in order to respond effectively to the post -conflict needs in affected areas.