Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels have described as baseless and unfounded accusations that they are regrouping and still committing various forms of atrocities in Northern Uganda. This comes after the International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Moreno Ocampo accused the rebels of committing more atrocities even as the LRA was engaged in peace negotiations with the government to end over-20 years of insurgency. Ocampo also reportedly said that the international arrest warrants against the LRA leadership should not be suspended since the rebels have not stopped committing atrocities against innocent civilians.
David Matsanga is the rebel’s technical advisor on ICC matters. From the Kenyan capital, Nairobi he tells reporter Peter Clottey that the ICC chief prosecutor’s statement could potentially undermine the on going peace negotiations in Juba.
“We do respect the ICC, but we don’t respect Moreno Ocampo. We don’t want these things to be distinguished. Moreno Ocampo has become personal and the LRA is determined to also become personal because Moreno Ocampo has left his job and he has now become a witch hunter, a prosecutor, and investigator and doing all the things that are actually against the LRA,” Matsanga noted.
He said the ICC chief prosecutor has not only failed to discharge his duties, but has also been biased against the rebels.
“He is not doing his job as the ICC statue has stated. He is doing a different job because he has been compromised by the government of the Republic of Uganda because he knows that it is him who flawed these investigations by investigating only one side of the conflict. So the LRA is determined to become personal from now. We respect the ICC, but we don’t respect Moreno Ocampo as a prosecutor,” he said.
Matsanga challenged the investigation that led to ICC indictment of crimes against humanity against the LRA leadership.
"You know very well that the ICC has no army, has no police to apprehend anybody. They are a talking shop one, because they have these things of Northern Uganda wrongly. You cannot investigate one side, and you call investigation. What do you call investigation? If two people have been fighting, do you investigate one side only? We have been keeping quiet… we are discussing peace, why should Ocampo a one single individual, a man from Europe to come and refuse what Ugandans are saying? They want peace and Ocampo wants to dole out punishment. Who is Ocampo? Ocampo has belittled himself to a degree of a person who should not be a prosecutor at all,” Matsanga pointed out.
He said the chief prosecutor’s recent statement could seriously destabilize the peace negotiations between the rebels and the Ugandan government.
“Ocampo is undermining Dr. Riek Marchar’s effort to bring peace in the region. Why does he issue statements of this nature at this time when he knows that we have signed Agenda Number Two? Number three; we are going to sign the ceasefire (agreement) and DDR (disarmament, demobilization, and resettlement) why does he talk about arrest allegations, which recruitment? Can he name how many people were recruited, when and where were they recruited? Which camp are they in, what type of malice is this? This is total malice that I have ever seen… Ocampo’s statements are naïve, prudish, sardonic, and they deserve the highest contempt of the whole international community. And even any lawyer who has studied law should actually condemn Ocampo,” he said.