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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 5 March, 2003, 22:39 GMT
Museveni doubts rebel truce
By Will Ross
BBC, Kampala

President Yoweri Museveni
Museveni thinks rebel offer is a ploy

The Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, has expressed scepticism over a ceasefire declared by rebels of the Lords Resistance Army last weekend to end 16 years of war.

Stating his position for the first time since the LRA announcement, he made it clear that he is not convinced that rebel leader Joseph Kony genuinely wants peace.

But he did offer a sign of hope that if certain conditions are adhered to, there could be a ceasefire by both sides.

The army has in recent months been speaking as though a military victory is in sight and President Museveni himself has publicly stated that the war would be won by the end of the dry season - which should be within a month.

The LRA ceasefire has been broken with the army reporting nine separate attacks in which 10 people have been killed and dozens abducted.

Talks conditions

Mr Museveni told the press on Wednesday: "We cannot respect that ceasefire declared unilaterally by Kony. We think it is a ploy to survive the dry season".

But while President Museveni sounded sceptical over Joseph Kony's motives he did offer hope that there could be a ceasefire in the future. Particularly as his own brother, Lieutenant General Salim Saleh, is due to meet the LRA by the end of this week.

In August last year, Mr Museveni called on the LRA to cease all hostilities and assemble at designated areas in southern Sudan and northern Uganda for ceasefire talks to begin.

The LRA declined, fearing that they would be walking into a trap.

A radio station in Gulu in the north of the country was last night told of the president's orders to play the entire speech he made in August which set out the conditions for talks.

But the fact that Museveni on Wednesday stated that at least some of his conditions must be met will be seen as a sign of hope for those advocating a peaceful end to the war.


Gulu MP Norbert Mao reacted with optimism following Mr Museveni's comments, saying, "at least there is room for flexibility".

He said he hopes Mr Museveni understands that talking peace is a dynamic process.

Norbert Mao said along with Lieutenant General Salim Saleh, he will be having face to face talks with the LRA.

Representatives from the Interior Ministry and the Attorney General's Office are also expected to attend.

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