In Uganda, leaders of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) have reportedly hired lawyers to represent them at the international criminal court (ICC) in the Hague. The ICC has indicted LRA leaders for crimes against humanity. The rebels say their lawyers would find out the exact charges against the indicted commanders, and how ICC plans to execute those indictments.
Obonyo Olweny is the spokesman for the rebel LRA. He said the rebels are yet to make any commitment whether to make the much talked about trip to the Hague.
“I know that in our delegation there is a lawyer, but he has been there since negotiations began last year. We also have not made a firm commitment to go to the Hague, but it was a general idea towards the end of last year that some of our delegation should go and visit the ICC and hear for themselves the accusations and have some exchanges with them,” he said.
Olweny said the leadership of the LRA has decided not to go back to Juba for the continuation of the peace talks with the Ugandan government.
“We are not going back to Juba; we’ve made a strong decision that we are not going back, and that is also shared by the high command of the rebels. We have given reason that the chief mediator in Juba is not neutral. He has been supporting the government of Uganda and so we have pulled out of Juba, and we have made that very clear even to the UN chief envoy Joaquim Chissano. And we are looking for a neutral venue, Olweny noted.
He said for the peace talks to continue, both the rebels and the Uganda government should make a compromise on the venue and the mediator.
“Certainly there must be a compromise at some stage, and the government of Uganda must accept to come to a neutral venue…they must accept to come to a neutral venue as demanded by the LRA,” he said.
Olweny said a different mediator would not be biased and would not side with the Uganda government as he said the current one is allegedly doing.
“We think that a new mediator would be neutral and non partisan, unlike the government of Southern Sudan which is headed by Vice President Riek Machar. That is why we are suggesting Nairobi, Kenya. Alternatively we can go to South Africa, and we have also suggested Rome in Italy,” he said.
Meanwhile, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has said the South Sudan city of Juba will remain the venue for the peace talks and that Riek Machar who is also the vice president of South Sudan would stay as chief mediator. Kenya has also rejected calls by the LRA that it hosts peace negotiations with the government, saying it did not want the talks delayed by distractions of "venue or forum shopping”.