Ugandan rebels threaten peace talks with government

Ugandan rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has threatened to derail the on-going peace talks with the government. It said that peace talks would not hold if the International Criminal Court (ICC) refuse to revoke the indictment against the rebel leadership.

“The ICC issue will be the first agenda. To come out, the ICC must revoke the indictment,” Vincent Otti, the LRA’s second-in-command told the Daily Monitor newspaper.

“If Kony or Otti does not come out, no other rebel will come out.”

Otti added the elusive rebel leader Joseph Kony would not surrender or even sign a comprehensive peace agreement with the government if their request is not met.

His comments came shortly before the resumption of peace talks in Juba, southern Sudan, casting fresh doubts on the decisive round of the talks.

It also brings into focus the idea ‘“ of whether the ICC would stick to its efforts to prosecute five indicted LRA top commanders “for war crimes.

Raska Lukwiya, the third-in- command and one of the indicted, was however shot dead by the Ugandan army in the northern region.

The court’s lead Prosecutor Moreno Ocampo had shown little sign the ICC would relent on the issue.

Though Ruhakana Rugunda, the head of the government peace negotiating team and internal affairs minister, said the government would convince the ICC.

Rugunda said last week a successful peace process coupled with a working mechanism of a traditional Acholi reconciliation practice would be enough proof for the ICC to back off.

The government had hoped to use the comprehensive peace agreement to convince the ICC to revoke the indictments, while the LRA intended to see the indictment lifted by the time a conclusive pact is reached. The peace talks, brokered by southern Sudan authority, entered a crucial stage as the LRA agreed to assemble its fighters scattered in northern Uganda and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The fighters were in two designated zones in southern Sudan within three weeks of Aug. 29 through provided safe passage.

Qtti said his troops, despite being encumbered by flooding rivers, would converge around Li-Kwangba, one of two assembly zones for the returning rebels.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni had promised a blanket amnesty for the rebel leadership if the rebel group agreed to end the rebellion.

The rebellion had left tens of thousands of people dead and over 1.4 million people homeless in the north.

The peace talks, which started on July 14, are seen as another chance to end the northern Uganda’s conflict.

The conflict was labelled by UN official as “one of the world’s most neglected humanitarian crisis.”

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The Tide, Nigeria
Sep. 10, 2006

Religion News Blog posted this on Sunday September 10, 2006.
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