Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels say the International Criminal Courts’ (ICC) arrests warrants against its top leadership are the main obstacle to finding a lasting peace to the northern Uganda conflict. The rebels also blame Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor of the ICC of bias and of being involved in a calculated attempt to derail the adjourned peace talks in the Southern Sudanese capital, Juba, between the LRA and the government of Uganda.
The LRA adds that it is committed to finding a lasting solution to the over 20-years of its insurgency. David Matsanga is the technical advisor for the rebels on ICC matters. From Kenya’s capital, Nairobi he tells reporter Peter Clottey that the rebels are grateful for the overwhelming support they are enjoying during their ongoing consultations in northern Uganda.
“We want to make it very clear that the position of the Lord’s Resistance Army on the question of the ICC is that it was a flawed process. It was a flawed process in that the prosecutor only investigated one side; he did not investigate all the sides that were involved in the conflict. That is our position. And the rest of it we have put it into agenda number three, which is exactly what the LRA stands for as far as accountability and reconciliation are concerned,” Matsanga pointed out.
He described as unfortunate the action of the chief prosecutor of the ICC, who he said is trying to undermine the peace process.
“With due respect, Ocampo has lost the credibility of prosecuting this case because he has gone outside his merits as a prosecutor. You wait for the court then you lay your case. But he has become a public relations officer who drums up and makes statements that even jeopardize any action that can be taken against the same people that he is accusing, trying to pin down the situation to confuse the peace process,” he said.
Matsanga said most people, including victims of the insurgency want peace to be achieved so they could go on with their lives.
“Ugandans are saying no, this peace process cannot be confused. We want the peace process to be concluded. There are no short cuts. Even the Uganda government knows there are no short cuts to the dialogue in Juba. And you cannot bring any other alternative that can bring long lasting and sustainable peace to the people of northern Uganda and eastern Uganda, and the rest of Uganda who has suffered as a result of this conflict for 21 years,” Matsanga noted.
He reiterated that the ICC-issued warrants are a major obstacle to the peace negotiations.
“We have told the government time and time again on the table in Juba. We have argued with the government, with Ruhakana Rugunda, even recently our delegation was in Kampala, when they met President Yoweri Museveni. They told President Museveni with no uncertain terms, categorically that the issue of the ICC is a stumbling block. And President Museveni said he is not also happy with the ICC issue,” he said.