Uganda talks in turmoil as rebels make new demands
Rebel spokesman Obonyo Olweny said the LRA delegation would only resume talks with the Ugandan government at a new venue and under new mediation since they had lost confidence in the semi-autonomous government of southern Sudan.
"There are no talks going on now and there will be no peace talks until our conditions are met," he told AFP in Nairobi.
"Chiefly, we are waiting for the chairman of IGAD, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, to respond to our demand for a new venue because we will not go back to Juba," the capital of southern Sudan, he added.
The LRA last week suggested that the regional, seven-nation Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) salvage the floundering peace process by moving the talks to Nairobi.
In addition, the rebels demanded a new mediation team after they fell out with chief peace broker Riek Machar, vice president of southern Sudan, who has steered the peace process since the talks opened in the middle of last year.
"We are demanding a new mediation team. The chief mediator (Machar) had proven that he is not impartial to oversee this peace process," Olweny explained.
"He has been forcing us to sign documents while issues have not been exhaustively discussed ... He has failed to prevail upon the government of Uganda to pull out its troops from southern Sudan in line withe ceasefire agreement," he added.
"The general perception is that he is partisan to the Ugandan government," he said.
The rebels also appealed to Mozambican former president Joaquim Chissano, the new special United Nations envoy for the conflict in Uganda, to step in and salvage the peace process.
"We truly hope that Chissano well help the peace process," said Olweny.
The talks, which were scheduled to resume Monday, are seen by many as the best chance to end the conflict that is regularly described as one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.
Apart from the initial cessation of hostilities agreement last August, the talks have barely made progress with the two sides remaining far apart on critical issues, including a reformed Ugandan military and power-sharing.
The conflict has raged since 1988, when Joseph Kony and his LRA took leadership of a regional rebellion among northern Uganda's ethnic Acholi minority.
Copyright (c) 2007 Agence France-Presse
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 01/17/2007 07:29:28
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