BY H. MUKASA & M. MULONDO Dr David Nyekorach Matsanga LONG time spokesman of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA), David Nyekorach Matsanga, wants to become President of Uganda. Matsanga, who has been based in London, told Saturday Vision that he has decided to quit the LRA to pave way for his bid for the 2011 presidential elections. I am in the ring. My slogan will be peace and reconciliation, he said in a telephone interview. The 54-year-old PhD holder in political science said his first task would be to defeat former UN envoy Olara Otunnu for the Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) leadership, before going for the presid ency. He attacked Otunnu, saying he betrayed the party by serving the junta that overthrew former President Milton Obote, and demanded that Otunnu apologises publicly. I am angered and disturbed. If Olara is imposed on UPC, Obote will roll in his grave, seeing a man who created the 1985 crisis coming to contest as UPC leader, he stated. Miria Obote and James Akena should know if they allow Otunu to take over UPC, they would have killed Obote a second time. If UPC denies him the party flag, he will stand as an independent presidential candidate, he said. Others who have expressed interest in the UPC presidency are Canada-based George Okurapa and UK-based Joseph Ochieno. Matsanga explained that he is quitting LRA because he was frustrated by Joseph Konys refusal to sign the peace agreement and end the 25-year-old war. He also decried the continued atrocities committed by the LRA in the DR Congo, Southern Sudan and the Central Africa Republic. I have told Kony: dont kill people. He has refused to stop. I went to Juba and people are in tears because he is massacring their people. Why should I suffer to defend a man of Konys calibre and I am arrested because of that? He said Konys ills have taken an international dimension that he can no longer stand. Its over, Matsanga said of his longtime association with the brutal rebel group. It is a personal decision. I will leave tomorrow (Friday) and I will leave forever. Matsanga, who had been an avid defender of the LRA and a rabid critic of the Government and the army, accusing it of human rights abuses in the North, is now pinning Kony over crimes against humanity. He claimed that he met US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to Kenya last week and that she convinced him to jump ship if Kony refused to sign. Matsanga has quit the LRA several times before. He resigned in April 1999 and read out a public apology for his role in the rebel ranks at a press conference in London on February 22, 2000. He told journalists then that the abduction of Aboke girls and his failure to rescue them from rebel captivity forced him to resign. The decision to apologise to Ugandans, he said, came as a result of pressure from friends, relatives, enemies and political leaders in exile who saw his stardom fade as a result of LRA activities. Matsanga resurfaced during the peace talks, when he was appointed chief negotiator for the LRA team in January 2008. He was, however, suspended a few months later amidst reports that he had been caught at Juba airport with a sealed envelop containing $20,000. Up to a week ago, Matsanga continued to act as Konys spokesman. On August 4, he rejected blame for attacks in Southern Sudan and the Central African Republic. And in an interview with Human Rights Watch on January 27, 2009, he denied that the LRA killed and abducted people in eastern Congo in September and December 2008, despite overwhelming evidence of the contrary. Opposition parties reacted positively to Matsangas possible home-coming. UPC welcomed his return to the stable. His coming is a blessing to UPC, said Chris Opoka, the partys secretary general. I know him as a great mobiliser and outstanding debater. He will be instrumental in helping UPC comb up support in his Bugisu region. UPC president Miria Obote said his return would strengthen the party. His joining of the race for the UPC presidency makes it more vibrant and depicts the strength of UPC. We now have a long list of people who have expressed interest. FDC said everybody joining them in the struggle to remove Museveni was welcome. He is an educated person and a good politician. Let him come back and we fight together the NRM dictatorship, said spokesperson Wafula Oguttu. Makerere University political science lecturer, Aaron Mukwaya, however, warned that Matsangas connections to the LRA could do a disservice to both UPC and the opposition. This is a man who has been supporting the LRA. People will associate him with Konys evils. This will tarnish the image of UPC. Matsanga is dangerous, both for the UPC and the opposition, he told Saturday Vision.