Uganda and rebels meet over delayed peace process

KAMPALA, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Ugandan officials and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels met in Kampala on Wednesday to try to push forward a stalled peace process aimed at ending a two-decade rebellion in the north.

Elusive LRA leader Joseph Kony threw two years of tortuous negotiations into disarray in April when he failed to sign a final deal hashed out in neighbouring south Sudan.

Since then, Kony repeatedly has failed to seal the pact and his rebels -- notorious for mutilations and mass abductions of children in northern Uganda -- have been accused of murders, kidnappings and rapes in the wider region.

"What the government of Uganda wants is one thing, for Kony to sign and stop harassing innocent civilians in Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Central African Republic," Internal Affairs Minister Ruhakana Rugunda told reporters.

"Non-fulfilment of the obligation means they are opening the door for other things," Rugunda said without elaborating.

Chief LRA negotiator David Nyekorach-Matsanga renewed calls to drop war crime indictments against Kony by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

"I am hopeful Joseph Kony will sign (the agreement) before end of the year. The LRA is committed to peaceful resolution of the conflict," he said at the start of a two-day meeting.

More than 20 years of civil war in northern Uganda forced two million people from their homes, killed thousands of others and also destabilised neighbouring parts of oil-producing south Sudan and mineral-rich eastern Congo.

Kony's troops were renowned for terror tactics like lip-slicing, chopping off arms and legs as well as abducting thousands of children to bolster its ranks.

(Reporting by Job Ongom; Editing by Jack Kimball and Michael Roddy)


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