Monday, March 05, 2007

The Juba Peace Talks

The Juba Peace Talks

The Juba peace talks have been interrupted because the LRA felt that there were grounds to be considered in order to make it a fair exercise. Their contentions were that:
1. Uganda army was attempting to surround LRA in the two designated assembly points,
2. The mediator, Dr. Riek Machar was not neutral.

As a result, they demanded that the mediator be changed and a new venue outside Sudan be found. These followed clearly documented evidences of Uganda government troops being closer to the assembly point than was comfortable(intent to capture LRA and end peace talks) and Dr. Riek Machar making demands that were tantamount to supporting the position of Uganda government.
The aim of negotiation is to find ‘middle ground.’ Dr. Riek Machar has been calling for the top leaders of LRA to attend the peace talks because the next stage required the signing of documents. Yet, at the same time, contentious issues raised by the LRA delegations are brushed aside. So, what documents were Kony and Otti necessary to sign? It is true that the presence of Kony in Juba would indicate how close peace was to northern Uganda. But there is also a chance that the situation could degenerate into far worse scenarios than is currently obtaining.
Given Museveni’s propensities for violating peace treaties and the constant shuttling of GOSS Vice President and mediator between Juba and Kampala, would this not give anyone ground for rejecting Machar as mediator?

Acholi delegation to Juba attempting to rejuvenate the peace talks recommends that Juba be the venue. Sudanese governors meeting recommends that LRA be forcibly evicted from Southern Sudan and that the peace talks are carried out elsewhere keeping GOSS as mediator. Both these groups are not really part of the peace talks but they directly benefit greatly from the cessation of war in their areas.
No other party, so far, has even acknowledged the position taken by the LRA as genuine and deserving of immediate attention. At the same time they demand that Kony himself come to Juba to sign some important document that are coming up shortly!! The mediator has threatened the LRA to do what he wants, like Kony coming to Juba to sign documents and that failure on the part of Kony is indicative of his lack of interest in peace in northern Uganda. On the other hand, refusing to accommodate the demands put forth by the LRA on the grounds that ‘it is frivilous’ is really delaying the conclusion of the talks.
There are sentimental reasons for Acholi groups insisting that Juba continue to be the venue of the peace talks and that Dr. Riek Machar continue being the moderator. Museveni, however, has purged himself of all such feelings and therefore ready to subjugate our Acholi people.
Briefly, I find that the LRA delegation is genuine in their demand for change of venue and mediator. It is up to us to clearly state our demands and indicate how far we can go without seeing concrete results before purging our people of those same sentiments that is making us subservient to Museveni who cares nothing about us.

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