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Uganda: Church welcomes offer of dialogue by rebels

 The Catholic Archbishop of Gulu, John Baptist Odama, has welcomed an announcement by rebels fighting in the north that they are ready to negotiate with the government. "Now we wait for your concrete step towards peace. We do not want you to continue to fight. Come into the open and transform your promises for peace in concrete actions," MISNA quoted Archbishop Odama saying. The Ugandan government should also take the offer to build a climate of reciprocal trust, he said "We know that both sides have accused each other in the past. It's necessary that both make an effort now to promote peace". The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has been waging a war in northern Uganda for nearly 20 years. Recent media reports quoted a senior rebel ommander saying the LRA was ready to talk peace. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has already issued arrest warrants for the founder of the LRA, Joseph Kony, and four of his top commanders. Archbishop Odama said: "The five wanted by the ICC must have the courage to come forward. We say that if they take decisions in favour of peace, the Court might suspend the warrants against them. This is what we expect". The archbishop said the end of the atrocious conflict should allow the start of reconciliation between the north and south of the country. "For this, an initiative is needed for truth and reconciliation on the model of South Africa, in which the Church is ready to play a concrete role." Source: CISA