UGANDA: Rebels Propose Federalist Solution at Juba Talks

KAMPALA, 11 Oct 2006 (IRIN) - The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) suggested on
Wednesday the country adopt a federalist system as a way of ensuring peace after
20 years of conflict in northern Uganda.

Date: 5th February 2007

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

In the revised LRA proposals, made under the talks' second agenda on comprehensive solutions, the rebels say Uganda should be governed
under a federal system of government, insisting that this would ease tensions and ensure general stability.

The on-and-off talks resumed last week after a fact-finding team checked out rebel claims that government troops had surrounded
surrendering rebels. The team last week visited Owiny Ki-Bul, one of two assembly areas for the LRA, and found that the rebels had instead
abandoned the site.

The legal adviser to the LRA's delegation in Juba, where the peace talks are being held, told IRIN that the LRA considered such a system
the best mechanism to "appropriately promote stability in the country. We are insisting on federalism," Ayena Odongo said. "When this system
was in place before independence and immediately after, the country experienced relative stability and development and since it was
abolished, Uganda has never been the same again."

The comprehensive solutions agenda covers the LRA's participation in national politics and institutions; social and economic development of
northern and eastern Uganda; as well as the resettlement of internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Odongo said the LRA's revised demands presented to the government delegation propose that the Ugandan parliament draw up legislation to
cater for this fundamental political reform.

"Those areas that can be federal states should be allowed to do so as this will promote mutual understanding within a bigger family,
Uganda," he said.

Other proposals include the creation of a government ministry mandated to handle the rehabilitation of northern and eastern Uganda, the two
areas that have borne the brunt of the 20-year conflict that has killed thousands and displaced almost two million people.

"We are proposing an independent special body that will be responsible for the rehabilitation of northern Uganda. We would not like this body
to be under the prime minister's office as has been the case before, but it should be a fully fledged ministry," he added.

The government delegation spokesman, Capt Paddy Ankunda, criticised the LRA proposals, saying the rebels, accused of atrocities in the
north of the country, lacked any moral authority to talk about the rehabilitation of the area.

"The north looks the way it does because of the LRA," he said. "I have seen their proposal where they say they want two representatives on
this body and we are going to give an answer to it."

The rebel group had also revised its earlier demand for the disbandment of the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF), saying it
was partisan. Now the rebels say it should be downsized to give room for what Odongo said was "other regions and integrating the LRA".

In the interim, the LRA should be left alone "because Joseph Kony [LRA leader] and his commanders are unlikely to subject themselves to the
protection of an army they have been fighting for 20 years", he said.

"Rather than talking about separate armies, during the period of DDR [demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration], as we try to build a
new force with a national character, the LRA should be left alone until the end of that process. Then we can have the demobil

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