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Criminal Court Says Uganda’s LRA Rebels Are Rearming

The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) says Uganda’s rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is rearming, regrouping and still holding abducted children. ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo says pursuing arrest warrants against the rebels’ top leadership will help sustain the peace process and offer justice to the victims of war crimes the rebels have allegedly committed. But the LRA dismissed the chief prosecutor’s pronouncements and accused him of backing the Ugandan government.

David Matsanga is technical advisor for the rebels on ICC matters. From the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, he tells the Voice of America that the chief prosecutor’s pronouncement is unfortunate.

“That is absolutely nonsense. The whole international community, including (former Mozambican) President Chissano, knows that we are committed to the peace process. And since we got committed to the peace process, there has not been any recruitment, any re-arming, any re-grouping, and any supplies that have come from anywhere. That is absolutely rubbish, and it is something that should be condemned by all people who want peace in Uganda,” Matsanga said.

He accused the chief prosecutor of taking sides in the conflict.

“We are negotiating for peace and the prosecutor is becoming a political tool and confusing the peace talks against the will of the people of Uganda,” he pointed out.

Matsanga questioned the credibility of the ICC’s Chief prosecutor.

“I think the prosecutor has lost his one method of analysis of the northern Uganda conflict. Two, methodology of investigation is flawed, and almost everything that the prosecutor has done in northern Uganda is questionable,” he said.

Matsanga dismissed suggestions that for peace and justice to be achieved, the arrest warrants against the top LRA leadership should be pursued.

“Justice cannot be offered by taking in commanders and leaving the troops in the field. That is wrong justice. The problem we have is with imperialism. The people of Uganda have said there is a traditional method of justice, which heals all the wounds, which has been used in Africa for many centuries before the white person arrived in this continent,” he noted.

Matsanga questioned the rationale of why a traditional form of justice is not being applied to heal the wounds of the victims of the LRA insurrection.

“Why are we trying to say we should actually follow the one that is in the Hague, where a prosecutor is very against the LRA? He always talks about the LRA. Why doesn’t he talk about the UPDF (Uganda Peoples Defence Force), which is still killing the people of northern Uganda, when the LRA has left the field, and they are one thousand, two thousand miles away from Uganda? That is a political persecution, which the prosecutor himself and his office are trying to allege against the LRA,” he said.

Matsanga dismissed the prosecutor’s allegations even further, calling them untruths.

“It is ridiculous, and it is sardonic, prudish, and it should be discarded by the international community,” he said.