Thursday, January 1, 2009

Ceasefire is not serious

Calls for a ceasfire from Joseph Kony, leader of the rampaging Lord's Resistance Army, are hard to take seriously since they come from the discredited group's spokesman, David Nyekorach Matsanga.

Matsanga claims to have talked with Kony -- a claim he has made in the past and proved to be untrue -- who has asked him to appeal for a ceasefire.

“Kony called me and told me he wants to talk peace. I am calling upon President Museveni to call for a ceasefire. We should re-open the negotiations,” Matsanga said to the New Vision newspaper.

When such a ceasefire is declared, a neutral venue and chief mediator should be found, Matsanga has said.

Kony has apparently decided that the former peace talk mediator Riek Machar, whose forces from South Sudan have joined in the hunt for Kony and his army, is no longer the neutral figure he apparently once was.

Instead, he wants UN envoy Joaquim Chissano to take over.

This also is very difficult to take seriously, especially since the LRA is being pursued now more vigorously than ever by a combined force of Congoleses, Ugandan and South Sudanese forces.

It is curious that Kony now is turning to Chissano, whom he has refused to meet in the past, as a far as most know, has never met.

It seems that the LRA negotiators, led by Matsanga, have tired of the food and accomodations given to them by the international community in Juba, South Sudan, where the talks have been based for two years.

Matsanga and whoever is now part of the ever-changing cast of so-called negotiators, want the talks resumed and moved to what they're saying is a neutral location, such as Kenya, Tanzania or even South Africa.

But what is the point? Why would Kony sign anything now or in the future when he has not done so on three occassions this past year?

The answer is clear and simple: he won't. This call for renewed talks is only an effort by Matsanga and a new set of negotiators to collect a wad of cash and live large on someone else's money.

Uganda isn't buying it.

“If Kony says he is ready to sign, that arrangement can be made but only if he is going to assemble at Ri-kwangba,” said Capt. Chris Magezi, military spokesman.

Magezi was reflecting the thinking of Uganda President Yoweri Museveni who has also said the only safe thing for Kony to do was to assemble his cult at Ri-Kwangba and sign the peace agreement.

“The operation will see the end of Kony, either peacefully by him walking to Ri-Kwangba or by being violently killed or captured,” Museveni said. “As an old fighter, I would not want to be in Kony’s position. The combined arms operations about to begin will decimate him.”

It is tough sounding talk, mostly, and Kony does not seem weakened by the offensive, since he has killed more than 400 civilians since his forces were first attacked on Dec. 14.

The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon has condemned the atrocities committed by the LRA and demanded that the rebels respect the international humanitarian law.

Ban’s special representative, Leila Zerrougui, on Tuesday met with Congo’s national security council to discuss the government’s needs. “She informed them of UN’s willingness to support them,” MONUC said in a statement.

No comments: