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LRA’s Otti accuses Sudan of favouring Ugandan govt

September 23, 2006 (KAMPALA) — The Lords Resistance Army’s second senior-most commander, Vincent Otti, has thrown another jibe at the South Sudan inspired peace negotiations by insisting that the mediators are in cahoots with the Uganda government.

Vincent_Otti.jpgAt a closed midweek meeting the rebels held with the Chairperson of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, Maj. Gen. Wilson Deng and other top SPLA commanders, Otti accused the government of South Sudan of sympathising and favouring the Kampala regime.

He claimed that the mediators steered by the South Sudan Vice President, Dr Riek Machar, often listen to Kampala more than they do to the rebels.

“We know you are sympathetic to the UPDF. You reported that we violated the ceasefire when we did not. I was here and the chairman [Kony] was also here and Ri-Kwangba,” Otti reportedly charged at the meeting.

Early this week, Deng asserted that the rebel leaders had dishonoured the August 26 truce, which had given them three weeks to assemble at two South Sudan assembly points.

The truce expired on Tuesday, and Deng said the rebel outfit’s top leadership had neither converged at Ri-Kwangba nor Owiny-Kibul, something that apparently incensed Otti.

A source that attended the meeting told Daily Monitor that Gen Deng shot back at Otti angrily. “It is true the UPDF are our allies. You [LRA] were our enemies. We fought you but all this has been put behind us. We want this war to end. So do not doubt our commitment,” he reportedly said.

Other LRA top commanders that included the rebels’ chief of staff Okot Odiambo flanked Otti, at the meeting. Realising that the comments had angered Deng, the source said, Otti apologised for his outburst and withdrew the statement.
Deng confirmed the fiery exchange to Daily Monitor shortly after the meeting but said the matter had been resolved amicably.

This is the second time in as many weeks since the peace talks begun on July 14 that the LRA has rebuked the mediation by the South Sudan government. In the first Otti accused Machar of complicating the peace process by insisting that he or Kony personally attend the talks in Juba. The rebels then went ahead to beseech the government of South Africa to intervene and take charge of mediation.

It also emerged that Otti reportedly complained about the quality of food the rebels have been served with by the government of South Sudan and demanded for money to buy food themselves. However, Deng rejected the request and promised the rebels that he would ensure the suppliers’ bring the best quality at the next supply. The rebels have been served with onions, tomatoes, maize flour, rice and beans.

In a related development, former Local Government Minister and now interim president of the People’s Progressive Party, Mr Jaberi Bidandi Ssali has written to Machar asking him to lobby President Museveni to “prevail upon the ICC to withdraw the warrant of arrest for Kony and his commanders.”

Bidandi’s letter, a copy of which Daily Monitor has seen, was posted to Machar two days ago. His letter joins the chorus of appeal suggesting that the ICC indictments stand in the way of the first real opportunity for peace in northern Uganda.

However, this popular view has been contested by President Museveni who insisted this week that the ICC could not back down and rescind the arrest warrants.

“ICC indictments are irremovable if Otti and Kony don’t come out of the bush for peace. The charges against Kony are crimes against humanity. It doesn’t matter what you say,” Museveni said.

(Daily Monitor)

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