By James Karuhanga

Senior Researcher, GLCSS

 

The government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) strengthened and renewed the 26 August Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CHA) this week. The supplementary truce agreement is a boost to resolve the northern Uganda conflict.

 

The agreement, signed 1 November 2006, gives the LRA rebels an additional month to assemble in the designated areas.  It guarantees security at the following assembly areas: Ri-Kwangba and Owiny-Ki-Bul in South Sudan. It also re-invites the African Union (AU) to participate in the peace talks and limits unauthorized visits to the assembly areas.

 

The Uganda’s Minister of Internal Affairs qualified the agreement as a positive gesture in the realization of peace.

 

“It’s a welcome and additional step in confidence building and consolidation of the peace process,” Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, the Ugandan team leader and Internal Affairs Minister said.
 

At this stage the LRA appears to be in agreement with the government of Uganda. The LRA delegation chief implied the peace talks were on the right course.

 

‘’It will give us a good atmosphere for negotiations,” stressed LRA Delegation Chairman Martin Ojul,  “because peace talks can not go on well when cessation of hostilities is not well defined.”

According to the newly, signed truce, the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) is committed to ensuring adequate security at the assemble areas. GoSS will also ensure logistical and service support, which will be confirmed by the mediator and/or verified by the Cessation of Hostilities Monitoring Team (CHMT).

 

GLCSS believes the commitment by GoSS to provide security to the rebels gives them confidence and should dispel their concerns of being besieged by the Ugandan army in South Sudan, as they earlier claimed. Also, it is of paramount importance that all parties–Chief Mediator and South Sudan Vice-President Dr. Riek Machar, the CHMT and the LRA–ensure that the remaining LRA forces in Uganda will assemble at Owiny-Ki-Bul.

 

Assembling at Owiny-Ki-Bul had been a contentious issue as the rebels refused to assemble there and had preferred Ri-Kwangba, which is near to their main hide-out (Garamba) in the DRC. Uganda rejected the rebels demand to move across the Nile towards Ri-Kwangba because it appeared the rebels’ only intention was to cross into DRC and regroup.

 

GLCSS, however, does not rule out any further complications after the signing of the new addendum. Smooth progress depends on the immediate assembling of the rebel soldiers in the guaranteed safe zones as is stipulated in the signed addendum. It is the opinion of GLCSS that the rebels might delay the assembling process even after being offered security guarantees by the government of South Sudan.

GLCSS trains African journalists, offers an on-site internship to foreign African studies students, and manages an exchange program with journalists from the United Kingdom, the United States and Europe.

James Karuhanga may be reached at james@glcss.org

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