(AFP) – Jun 7, 2008
KAMPALA (AFP) — Former Mozambique president Joaquim Chissano on Saturday met Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in a bid to breath life into a stalled process aimed at ending end more than two decades of insurgency.
The peace process stalled in April when Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebel supremo Joseph Kony refused to sign a peace deal that had been reached with Kampala because of outstanding International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrants.
Kony's obduracy cast a pall over peace hopes, prompting Chissano to intervene to save the fitful process.
"President Museveni and his guest reviewed issues pertaining to the peace process between the government of Uganda and the LRA," the presidential press wing said in a statement.
Chissano is the UN peace envoy to the conflict in Uganda, a troubled east African nation that has been battling rebels for more than two decades.
In July 2005, The Hague-based ICC issued warrants accusing commanders, including Kony, of responsibility for the rape and mutilation of civilians, forcibly recruiting child soldiers and the massacre of thousands of people.
In April, Kony refused to show up and sign a peace agreement, insisting that ICC warrants be lifted first. But he has hinted at his readiness to face a traditional Ugandan tribunal.
But Ugandan Interior Minister Ruhakana Rugunda said the Saturday talks could determine the fate of the peace process that started in July 2006 and was seen as the best chance to restore stability in Uganda.
"This review will determine the next course of action," added Rugunda, who attended the talks.
"Ugandan government remains committed to the peace process despite the problems experienced in the past," he told AFP. Rugunda is the government chief negotiator at the peace process normally held in the South Sudan capital Juba.
A semi-literate former altar boy, Kony took charge in 1988 of a regional rebellion among northern Uganda's ethnic Acholi minority, two years after the original insurgency started.
The war has killed tens of thousands and displaced two million people, mainly in northern Uganda, in what humanitarian workers have described as one of the most neglected conflicts.
Meanwhile the semi-autonomous region of South Sudan on Saturday accused the LRA of killing more than 20 people, including soldiers and several children, in the region near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The region's army spokesman General Peter Parnyang said LRA guerrillas had targeted the villages of Nabanga and Yamba on Wednesday and Thursday.
"They killed six children and 14 soldiers" in Nabanga before also killing a local chief in Yamba, he told AFP.
The LRA fighters are hiding in the jungles of South Sudan and Congo.
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