Monday, December 29, 2008

South Sudan confirms attacks on LRA rebels - Riek Machar calls on LRA to assemble at Rikwangba in Southern Sudan

Rikwangba in Southern Sudan remains open as assembly area for LRA rebels.

Article from Sudan Tribune December 15, 2008 (JUBA) by James Gatdet Dak:

The Government of Southern Sudan’s Vice President and Chief Mediator of the Uganda peace process, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, confirmed on Monday that military offensive against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) was under way inside DR Congo.


Photo: LRA Joseph Kony is shaking hand with southern Sudan’s vice president Riek Machar. (Reuters).

A regional joint force carried out a surprise attack on LRA positions in eastern DR Congo on Sunday.

Machar said as mediators they were aware of the offensive shortly before it was announced in Kampala by the Ugandan government.

He blamed the LRA leader Joseph Kony for not signing the peace deal.

“We understand the frustration involved because Kony has failed to sign [the final peace agreement] five times,” he explained.

He further explained that Kony failed his arrangement to sign twice, former Mozambican President Joachim Chissano’s once, northern Ugandan leaders’ once and lastly failed to talk to President Museveni on the phone despite Museveni’s offer to dialogue with him directly.

Machar added that his government has closed its borders and would not allow the renewed fighting with the rebels to over spill into Southern Sudan again.

He however said the Government of Southern Sudan has made an important decision that incase Joseph Kony reconsiders to sign, Rikwangba in Southern Sudan remains open as assembly area for the rebels.

He said he considered the military offensive as a pressure on Kony to sign.
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Article from Sudan Tribune by James Gatdet Dak December 20, 2008 (JUBA)

The Chief Mediator of the Uganda peace process, Government of Southern Sudan’s Vice President, Riek Machar Teny has called on the rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to assemble in Ri-Kwangba to “de-escalate” the ongoing hostilities with regional forces.


Photo: Riek Machar

A joint regional force launched offensive against the LRA bases inside north-eastern DR Congo last week and still escalating.

In his 2nd report on the status of the Juba peace process, dated 15th December and of which copy the Sudan Tribune received today, the Chief Mediator stated that it was the Ugandan army that carried out the attacks on LRA on 14th December in Garamba forests, but was to be joined by Congolese forces while the SPLA would deploy along Southern Sudan borders to prevent the LRA from infiltrating into the semi-autonomous region.

He urged the LRA rebels to assemble in Ri-Kwangba area, respect the terms for assembling, sign and implement the peace deal.

The Government of Southern Sudan’s Vice President further stated that the military action was neither intended to destroy the Juba peace agreements nor abrogate the Ugandan government’s commitments towards the peace process.

Machar blamed the LRA leadership for not signing the Final Peace Agreement (KPA), which prompted regional military offensive against the rebels and called on them to assemble.

"I would therefore invite the LRA to signal its readiness to return and assemble in Ri-Kwangba in order to expeditiously conclude the Juba process,” he stated.

Some of the rebels were already reported to have infiltrated into Southern Sudan following the fighting and were accused by government officials of killing two civilians yesterday in Western Equatoria state.

He said the LRA should contact the Mediator who would, through the Cessation of Hostilities Monitoring Team, work with the relevant forces, to arrange for safe passage to Ri-Kwangba at Sudan/DR Congo border.

Machar said the mediators were aware of the concerns raised by the LRA on the ICC which they said were impeding the signature of the FPA, but he stated that these would be addressed within the framework of the peace agreement and "should therefore not delay this process any longer."

"The LRA must act swiftly and in good faith to conclude this chapter of violence so that peace can return to this region," he concluded.
Cross posted today at Congo Watch and Uganda Watch.

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