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Cablegate: Lra Talks: Workshops and Then the Real Work

DE RUEHKH #2036 2400836
P 280836Z AUG 06




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: LRA Talks: Workshops and then the Real Work

Ref: Khartoum 1978 and previous

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Over the past week, the two delegations in the
talks between the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and the government of
Uganda have been presenting their new position papers and having
workshops on various aspects of the talks. Once all the position
papers are presented, likely by the end of the week, the mediation
team will make compromise documents based on the papers. While the
LRA has requested that a South African delegation join the talks,
their participation is unlikely at this phase according to a high
ranking UN diplomat from South Africa who is in Juba to meet with
the parties. An observer from UN OCHA also commented that the
visits from northern Uganda ethnic, civil and government leaders was
very productive. END SUMMARY.

Workshops Propel, Focus Talks

2. (U) Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) Vice President Riak
Machar, who is the lead mediator for the talks, invited three
speakers on successive days this week to hold workshops on ceasefire
modalities, the conditions and needs of the people of northern
Uganda, and the International Criminal Court (ICC). The speaker on
ceasefire modalities, a legal expert provided by UNMIS, explained
the difference between a cessation of hostilities and a true
ceasefire and how each can be accomplished. The LRA delegation was
reportedly pleased with this presentation because it has been asking
for a cessation of hostilities before a ceasefire, while the Ugandan
Government had been basically using the terms interchangeably.

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3. (U) The workshop held on the situation in northern Uganda and
the needs of its people was basically aimed at grounding the LRA
negotiating team, most of whom have lived overseas for many years.
The final speaker, a lawyer from London specializing in the ICC,
attracted the most interest. The lawyer explained how the Acholi
traditions and the laws of Uganda could be applied in a way that
would satisfy the ICC. He cautioned, however, that the ICC would
most likely only accept a solution whose goal was justice, and not a
response crafted specifically to appease the ICC.

The UN Takes a Closer Look

4. (SBU) The UN also sent one of its senior diplomats, Welile
Nhlapo, Director of the Africa I Division, to meet with the parties
and report back to New York. Nhalpo, who is from South Africa, told
the Acting Consul General (A/CG) that he believes the South Africans
will not get involved in the talks at this late stage unless there
is a reason the LRA is unhappy with their current mediators. LRA
Deputy Commander Vincent Otti reportedly made the request to the
South African Ambassador in Kampala, by phone and in writing, but
did not articulate any specific problems with the current process.
Nhalpo suspects it is because they are distrustful of the insistence
that Otti go to Juba, and are unhappy that the GoSS has asked that
they identify their numbers and proceed to rally points. Nhalpo
commented that the LRA has still not adjusted to Machar's shift from
a host trying to bring them to the table to a mediator seeking an
agreement from both sides.

5. (SBU) An observer from UN OCHA said that the Ugandan Government
presented all of its papers last week, while the LRA was lagging
behind but would be done this week. The observer felt that the
talks benefited from the recent visit from Acholi elders, civil and
religious leaders of northern Uganda, and members of the Ugandan
Government including members of parliament. The delegation's
mission was to help the LRA focus more on the needs of the north.
However, the group also reportedly learned a lot that they would
bring back to their people and their government to secure wide
support for the negotiations and to ensure that any agreement is
supported by Uganda and backed up by the Ugandan legislature. In
response to a question from the A/CG, the UN OCHA observer commented
that all sides, observers, mediators and participants, were focused
on making sure any agreement is just and meets the demands of the
LRA without supporting impunity. The UN OCHA observer also agreed
that the lack of a solid connection to LRA leadership was a
hindrance but that it will be addressed at some point. Newspapers
have reported direct talks between the Ugandan delegation and Otti
over the phone within the framework of the negotiations.


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