The government of Uganda is ready to hold talks with rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) if the latter can realise the “futility of their atrocious programme” in northern Uganda, the minister in charge of the presidency, Ruhakana Rugunda, said on Monday.
“It is true that the government has been concerned about the situation in northern Uganda and has made contacts with the rebels,” he told IRIN. “In the interest of peace, the government has decided to go an extra mile in calling for talks.”
“We are even considering offering an amnesty to the rebels,” he said, adding that an amnesty bill will soon be presented in parliament for debate.
He noted that the LRA, believed to have backing from the Khartoum government, had carried out “heinous acts” including chopping off people’s limbs, noses and ears, besides killing and abducting children. “In spite of all these crimes committed against innocent citizens, our first option for peace is discussion. If this fails, then the struggle will continue,” Rugunda said.
Efforts for peace started in 1993, but stalled in 1994 when President Yoweri Museveni claimed the rebels were not serious and were using the ceasfire to prepare for fresh attacks. He gave the rebels a seven-day ultimatum to strike a deal or face a government offensive. Another peace attempt in 1995 failed after two Acholi leaders in the talks, Okot Ogun and Olany Lagony, died in mysterious circumstances.