Home | News    Wednesday 17 January 2007

Mediators say Ugandan talks can resume in Sudan

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Jan 16, 2007 (JUBA, Sudan) — Ugandan rebels will return to peace talks in southern Sudan with the Ugandan government once they receive a formal invitation, two south Sudanese officials said on Tuesday.

Sudanese First Vice-President Salva Kiir(C) attends the opening of peace talks with the head of the LRA delegation, Martin Ojul (R), and Uganda government representative Ruhakana Rugunda (L) in Juba.

The rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) had said on Saturday that nothing would persuade them to attend talks inside Sudan again because of remarks by Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who vowed to "get rid of the LRA from Sudan".

But Samson Kwaje, minister of information in the south Sudanese government, told reporters on Tuesday: "The LRA have given a condition ... that they need to be officially invited again." He was referring to their terms for attending another round of talks in the south Sudanese capital Juba.

The Ugandan government delegation is on standby to come to Juba and attend the talks, he added.

The chief mediator in the talks, south Sudan Vice President Riek Machar, also said that this was the position of the LRA, as expressed by LRA deputy commander Vincent Otti on Monday. Sudan has not yet sent a new invitation, he added.

But LRA delegation spokesperson, Obonyo Olweny, said on Tuesday by satellite telephone from Nairobi that to the best of his knowledge the LRA high command in the bush was categorical that talks would not return to Juba.

Machar said a communication problem could be the reason for Olweny’s denial.

The U.N. special envoy on the conflict between the LRA and the Ugandan government, former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, met Machar in Juba on Tuesday. "This is just a familiarisation mission," Chissano told reporters.

In 20 years of war between the LRA and the Ugandan government. tens of thousands of people were killed in northern Uganda and southern Sudan. Nearly 2 million were displaced.

(Reuters)

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