THE South Sudan mediated peace talks between the Uganda Government and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army have so far cost over US$3.2million (about shs5.4billion), officials have said.
It is projected that costs would soar in December to US$7 million (about shs11.9) making a total of Shs15.1 billion since the talks started last June. According to chief mediator, Dr Riek Machar about US$5.8million has been provided by several donors towards the facilitation of the negotiations mediated by the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) of which he is Vice President.
But the United Nations and Goss officials managing the basket fund have declined to give a comment on the cost of the expenditure arguing that they only make accountability to the contributing organisations.
"I am not authorized to discuss that with the media but all I know is that we have been contributing to our stay," the government peace delegation spokesman, Felix Kulayigye while LRA publicist, Olweny Obonyo referred Daily Monitor to their chairman, Mr. Martin Ojul, whose telephone was switched off.
However, state minister for foreign affairs in charge international relations, who is also the deputy chair for the government team, said the government has been taking care of most of its bills.
"To reduce on the financial burden, the position of government is to take care of its costs," Mr Okello Oryem said.
Of the US$5.8, which the donors have contributed to facilitate the peace negotiations, President Museveni last year gave the Uganda government contribution of US$1million (about shs1.7bn).
However, investigations by Daily Monitor indicate that of the US$3, 257,000, so far spent the bulk of US$1,864,102 (about shs3.17bn) has been spent on accommodating the Uganda government delegation led by Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda and that of the LRA headed by Mr Martin Ojul.
Each delegation has 15 members but with several support staff and security personnel, whose number varies from time to time. A full-board self-contained room (prefabricated) at the river side, Civicon Oasis Hotel, where the government team resides costs US$265 per night (about shs 451,825) while a double bed tent (not self-contained) similar to those occupied by support staff and military escorts in Juba goes for US$120 (about shs204,000) per nigt.
Juba Bridge Hotel, the hotel where LRA delegation reside cost $215 (about shs366,000).
The United Nations has, however, been paying to Juba Bridge hotel and Civicon Oasis, for the nights the delegations have been on recess since January, when the LRA walked out of the peace negotiations alleging lack of personal security in Juba and biased mediation by Dr Machar.
On top of accommodation, UN through Goss pay US$60 (about shs 100,000) per day as allowances which the LRA delegates want raised to US$70, medical bills and airtime for the delegates. Uganda government pays allowances for its delegates but none of the officials want to disclose how much.
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