Congo Watch: LRA terminate negotiating team - Kony pleads with Chissano for ceasefire?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

LRA terminate negotiating team - Kony pleads with Chissano for ceasefire?

From Sudan Tribune Saturday January 10, 2009 (PARIS) - LRA terminate negotiating team - excerpt:
A statement purporting to come from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the cultic guerrilla force that negotiated during two years with Kampala without siging the final peace deal, announced the immediate termination of its negotiating team.

LRA negotiator David Nyekorach-Matsanga

Photo: LRA negotiator David Nyekorach-Matsanga

The LRA ended all contacts with David Matsanga, Miss Abalo and Justine Labeja. Matsanga had already once before been dismissed by LRA leader Joseph Kony before allowing him to resume his activities. [...]

Matsanga had even previously in July 2008 been accused of plotting Kony’s death. The UK-based negotiator was arrested in South Sudan in April 2008 carrying a letter from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to Kony and $20,000.

It is not clear that Matsanga would currently have any ease in contacting Kony at this point anyway. Kony’s forces have been driven to part of Garamba National Park in northeastern DR Congo, where they were attacked in late December. [...]

The supposedly LRA statement noted, that the negotiators’ removal “means they no longer speak for LRA, or peace talk negotiating delegates and must not engage in any form of negotiations.”

“The decision was reached in support for peaceful end to the conflicts in Uganda and the Great lakes Region,” claimed the text.

“This ruling is also communicated to United Nations, African Union, Non-governmental Organisations, UN appointed delegate Mr Chissano, President Joseph Kabila Republic du Congo, President of Republic of Kenya, Government of Southern Sudan President Kiir, President of Central African Republic, Uganda Government and international observers.”
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From The New Vision, Uganda by Henry Mukasa and Justin Moro, Sunday 11 January 2009 - Kony pleads with Chissano for ceasefire - excerpt:
UNDER heavy fire from a joint military offensive, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) leader, Joseph Kony, has intensified his appeal for a ceasefire.

The LRA spokesperson, David Nyekorach Matsanga, led a delegation to Maputo over the weekend to deliver a letter to the UN envoy to the LRA-affected areas and former Mozambique president, Joaquim Chissano.

“I have just delivered a special message from General Kony to president Chissano. We want a halt in fighting. We are calling for a ceasefire. We are for peace,” Matsanga said on telephone from Mozambique yesterday. [...]

The LRA letter addressed to Chissano, who was a key player in the Juba peace talks, was also copied to presidents Yoweri Museveni, Joseph Kabila (DRC), Mwai Kibaki (Kenya), Salva Kiir (South Sudan), Africa Union chairman, Jakaya Kikwete (Tanzania), the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon and the chief peace talks mediator, Dr Riek Machar.

Matsanga declined to state the content of the letter and what response his team had received from Chissano.

However, in a copy of the letter seen by the New Vision, the LRA says the call for a truce was based on the past failure of the army to defeat the rebel group rather than feeling the heat of the operation.

“That’s why the LRA peace delegation has been left with no option but ask you to convene an urgent meeting,” Matsanga wrote.

He singled out the International Criminal Court warrants of arrest for Kony and his top commanders as the biggest stumbling block to signing the peace agreement.

“The matter of the ICC warrants has overshadowed the very nerve centre of our peace process since inception in 2006,” he wrote.

President Museveni’s press secretary Tamale Mirundi said the rebels were given one option by the President, to assemble at Ri-Kwangba.

“By the time the Government took the decision of the military offensive, the President had realised that these people were not for peace. They continued to kill and abduct civilians,” Mirundi noted.

On Matsanga’s assertion that the operation will not crush the LRA, Mirundi asked the Matsanga not to waste his breath.

“In wrestling, someone on top cannot call out to be separated. It’s the person suffocating who cries out,” Mirundi explained.

This is the second time the LRA is pleading for a ceasefire since the military offensive was launched. On December 31, Kony appealed to President Museveni to declare a cessation of hostilities.

Meanwhile, according to The Sudan Tribune, of January 10, a statement purporting to come from the LRA, announced the immediate termination of its negotiating team. [...]

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