BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Jul 17, 2002

Uganda: President reports "some contact" between peace envoys, LRA rebels

17 July

Peace emissaries have already made contact with [leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, LRA, Joseph] Kony rebels in an attempt to initiate talks with the government, President Yoweri Museveni said yesterday.

Speaking at a joint press briefing with His Highness the Aga Khan at State House, Nakasero [Kampala], Museveni said he did not have the details.

Museveni last week gave religious leaders a go-ahead to initiate the peace talks.

"There has been some contact (between the rebels and the emissaries) but I don't yet have the details. I will know tomorrow," Museveni said.

The briefing followed a lengthy meeting between Museveni and the spiritual leader of the Ismaili community in the world.

"I told them (rebels) to go to some sparsely populated areas in southern Sudan, particularly Panyikwara, Owiny Kibul and Aswa valley, if they want talks," he said.

"If they go there, I will stop attacking them. If they don't, we shall continue attacking them."

There have been increasing calls for dialogue with Kony since the rebels re-entered Uganda over a month ago and launched attacks against civilian and military targets.

The Aga Khan thanked Museveni for creating an enabling environment for investment and pledged his Foundation's continued investment in education and medical sectors.

"We will be committing future resources to education facilities at primary, post-primary and tertiary levels. We are interested in the demography of the country, how to move services to the rural areas. We shall support initiatives like micro-credit," the Aga Khan said.

State Ministers Sam Kutesa (Investments) and Maj Tom Butime (International Cooperation) were among those present.

The Aga Khan Development Network has made substantial investments in east Africa. Its interests are spread out into finance, the media, tourism, health and education. It's latest major investment is the Aga Khan University in east Africa located in Kampala.

Museveni said the Aga Khan intended to re-open his leather-tanning factory in Jinja. The factory ceased operations due to instability. Museveni said the group was also exploring possibilities in spinning textiles.

The Aga Khan promised to support Uganda's industrialization programme, saying the future of countries that essentially dependent on agricultural products is fragile.

"There is need to spread the economic base to other more productive ventures," he said. He said the Aga Khan University would start with quality programmes in nursing and subsequently introduce medical education, education and Islamic humanities.

The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, the agency that handles the group enterprises in developing countries is not a profit-making organization.

"It's objective is not entrepreneurial. It is to help people. The objective is to promote development," the spiritual leader said.

Source: The New Vision web site, Kampala, in English 17 Jul 02

BBC Monitoring