The government of Sudan says it will suspend cooperation with the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC). This follows accusations that some Sudanese officials have committed war crimes in Sudan’s western Darfur region. Observers believe the move will have an adverse effect on Sudan’s commitment to cooperate in arresting the top leadership of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), who are under indictment by the ICC. But Major Felix Kulayigye, who is the spokesman for the Ugandan army, tells VOA that Sudan’s action will not have any impact on the resumption of peace talks between the Ugandan government and the rebel LRA.
“As far as we know, the LRA re-echoed their commitment to the peace talks when they met the government delegation under the chairmanship of former President Chissano. And we indeed hope that probably next week or early April, we should see the resumption of the talks,” Kulayigye said.
Kulayigye, however, does not see how Khartoum’s action would have any adverse effect on the yet-to-be resumed peace talks between the Uganda government and the rebel LRA.
“Of course, Khartoum has its own stands against the United Nations in Darfur. And we believe that if Darfur is in the west, it should have no relations with what is going on in the south… We still have hopes that whatever they have said against the ICC should not affect the talks,” Kulayigye noted.
He says although the LRA has concerns about an ICC indictment on its top leadership, they are willing to continue with the peace talks.
“Indeed they (LRA) had fear about that cooperation. But they have been told in no uncertain terms by various circles that they cannot run away from the indictment wherever they may go,” he said.
Kulayigye dismissed accusations leveled by the leader of the LRA that sought to blame the Ugandan army for breaching an agreement on the cessation of hostilities.
“Honestly, first of all, he has made various accusations before and none was ever found to be true. For instance, when they alleged that we had attacked them and we had choppers moving in Southern Sudan, the cessation of hostilities monitoring team did not find these accusations to be correct,” he pointed out.
Kulayigye accused the rebel LRA of attacking ordinary civilians.
“The latest we have from the World Food Program says that the LRA attacked villages the other day and over three thousand people are displaced. So what I know is that, whenever, there is an act they have done that is known by all, they always look for something to divert attention…I pray that we won’t go back to the issue of accusations and counter accusations if we indeed want to achieve a lasting peace,” he said.