Missionary speaks of frustration with Ugandan rebels
A Comboni missionary assisting in peace negotiations in Uganda said he has been frustrated by a lack of concrete answers from rebel leaders.
Fr Carlos Rodriguez, a Spanish priest who serves as secretary for the Acholi Religious Leaders' Peace Initiative, an interfaith coalition of religious leaders seeking a peaceful solution to the 17-year conflict in northern Uganda, said it is nearly impossible to get a firm commitment from the rebel Lord's Resistance Army.
"The rebels are such a strange group" and no one understands what they are after, Fr Rodriguez told Catholic News Service.
He said he has met with rebel representatives about 20 times but has been unable to produce results because each meeting has been with a different low-ranking member who was unable to speak on behalf of the entire group and who had not been briefed on what was discussed at previous meetings. Meetings in the past year have been sporadic, he said.
The rebels only negotiate when they feel weakened and threatened, he said. He said rebel leaders stopped attending peace talks once the Sudanese government resumed supplying arms to them last year.
The Lord's Resistance Army has been fighting to overthrow the Ugandan government since 1987. Its members are widely believed to be responsible for the abduction of children, the torture and mutilation of civilians, and the pillaging of villages in northern Uganda.
Catholic News Service
Acholi Religious Leaders' Peace Initiative
Uganda: missionary reports town overwhelmed with refugees (Independent Catholic News)
Lord's Resistance Army (Globalsecurity.org)
Ugandan seminarians speak about kidnap ordeal (23/5/03)
Comboni Missionaries Online
7 Aug 2003