The outgoing United Nations envoy for the conflict in northern Uganda today stressed the need for a two-pronged strategy of pursuing negotiation as well as military action against the notorious rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
In his last briefing to the Security Council as the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the LRA-affected areas, Joaquim Chissano spoke about the state of the Juba peace agreements – originally signed in Sudan in February 2008 and set to take effect after the signing of a final overall peace accord – involving the LRA and the Ugandan Government.
Countries in the region, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), have joined forces with Uganda to militarily root out the LRA, following the failure by the group’s leader, Joseph Kony, to sign the final peace pact which would end two decades of fighting.
Those operations, which display a new determination by countries to collectively deal with the dangers posed by the LRA, had both uprooted and disrupted the group, Mr. Chissano, the former president of Mozambique, told the 15-member Council in a closed meeting.
But he also noted that these military ventures have triggered “vicious” LRA reprisals in the DRC and Southern Sudan.
Mr. Kony has given the impression that he has little interest in the peace process, the envoy said, but emphasized that opportunities for peaceful re-engagement with the LRA and military action must be pursued simultaneously.
The LRA leader’s direct engagement would be the yardstick of the credibility of any discussions, Mr. Chissano, who was appointed to his position in December 2006, said.
The Juba peace agreements should be implemented, he said, adding that people in northern Uganda have already experienced the fruits of peace.
Members of the Council commended Mr. Chissano’s efforts as Special Envoy, Ambassador Ruhakana Rugunda of Uganda, which holds the body’s rotating monthly presidency, told reporters following today’s consultations.
The Council also called on the LRA to “come and seize the opportunity still there and sign the final peace agreement,” said Mr. Rugunda.