Bishop Gakumba confirmed what Dr David Matsanga who was the chief negotiator in the Northern Uganda peace talks has all along said that peace had indeed returned to Uganda. Speaking to TLEP from his offices in Nairobi Thursday, Dr Matsanga said: “There are those who simply do not want me to be associated with the peace that is currently enjoyed by the people of Northern Uganda. So many in London have attacked my personality and claimed there was still war going on in Northern Uganda. I helped negotiate that peace and whereas the government of Uganda is yet to honour their commitment to pay for my services, the fact remains that I played a very important role in the current peace in the area. The government of Uganda offered to pay for my services and stopped the European Union that had sponsored the peace process doing it after it had offered to do so. They told the EU, in front of the now Vice President of South Sudan Dr Riek Machar who was chief mediator in the talks and Dr Ruhakana Rugunda who led the Uganda Government side, not to pay my money which still stands at US$282,922.77, promising that the Ugandan government would settle the bill.”
Despite this, Dr Matsanga says he has remained optimist about the peace process and fully supports the peace in Northern Uganda. He said he has never been reactionary to ask for this money publicly but continues to dialogue with the Uganda government.
The ARLPI letter blames the failure of Joseph Kony to sign the peace agreement on the Uganda government itself. It says: “Everyone had hopes in the talks that the (Cessation of Hostility Agreement) [would] lead to [the] signing of the comprehensive agreement for war to come to an end. To the surprise of many, Government of Uganda (sic) lost patience and with the support of the United States launched the operation lightening thunder meant to end the conflict within two weeks.” The religious leaders’ letter goes on to add: “Had the US not intervened, the final peace agreement could have been signed.”
Northern Uganda religious leaders have now firmly laid the continuation of the LRA and its leader Joseph Kony squarely at the feet of the United States and its Ugandan allies. They said: “Had the US not intervened, the final peace agreement could have been signed.” Their open letter accuses both the Uganda and US governments for using Operation North of 1994 and Operation Iron Fist of 2002 to make attempts by then Northern Uganda Minister Betty Bigombe to broker peace in the area fail. It damns the launch of Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 video saying it will now make the LRA intensify its atrocities on innocent children.
However, Dr Matsanga insists that the Final Peace Agreement (FPA) which was negotiated between the Uganda Government and the LRA remains the only route that the LRA leader Joseph Kony could use as the means to escape the on-going operation that has been launched against him. He said the agreement guarantees the safety of women and children who have been in captivity to be surrendered to the chief mediator Dr Riek Machar who still holds the original FPA document. “The onus is now on the Kony to pick up the phone and call the chief mediator who is the custodian of the FPA and request for a signing ceremony and location to avoid the current onslaught which will injure the women and children still in captivity,” Dr Matsanga.