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Ugandan delegation heads to Sudan’s Juba for talks with rebels

June 3, 2006 (KAMPALA) — Ugandan delegation for peace talks with the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is expected to start today in the capital of southern Sudan, a press report said.

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Joseph Kony

According to the New Vision, the Ugandan delegation led by internal affairs minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, will first hold consultative talks with the government of southern Sudan Monday.

On Rugunda’s team is international relations minister Okello Oryem and a senior military official. Rugunda, who headed the government team that held talks with the rebels in 2004, could not be reached for comment. However, Oryem confirmed the mission.
“We are determined to go for peace talks. We are honest and there are no conditions,” Oryem said.

Depending on the outcome of the consultations, Oryem said, the Government will name a bigger team on Wednesday or Thursday and talks will start over the weekend.

He said the consultations with the government of Southern Sudan would to lay ground for “real talks” with the rebel leaders.

“They are the ones who have been talking with the rebels. We are going to consult with them on when peace talks can start. We want to have a face-to-face consultation; not on phone where you might misunderstand something,” Oryem said on telephone yesterday.

The minister said there should not be any trepidation about government’s positive response to talk peace with the LRA again.

Asked about the Government’s statement that inclusion of LRA leader Joseph Kony and his four top commanders indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) needed to be clarified before talks, Oryem said the consultations would clear that.

“We are prepared to talk about everything and that (indictment of the LRA top commanders) is open for discussion,” he said.

President Yoweri Museveni reopened doors for talks with the rebels in May after meeting with Southern Sudan president Salva kiir. He gave a deadline of July 31, saying each initiative should have a positive outcome before that date.

There have been three attempts to negotiate peace with the LRA rebels, who have fought for almost two decades in the north.

First was the 1993-94 Betty Bigombe talks, when the Government gave the LRA seven days to surrender, then in 2003 and most recently in 2005, during which the Government demanded that LRA fighters assemble in a designated area before talks start.

(ST/New Vision)