Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels say unless President Yoweri Museveni’s government intervenes to help remove the international indictments against top rebel leadership, they will refuse to play any part in the ongoing peace negotiations. The rebels say President Museveni is reneging on his pledges after reportedly promising a rebel delegation that recently visited him to have the indictments removed. The talks in the southern Sudanese capital Juba aim to resolve more than two-decades of a rebel insurgency in northern Uganda.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants against LRA leader Joseph Kony, among other top rebel commanders, for various crimes against humanity. From Juba, the leader of the rebel delegation, David Matsanga, tells reporter Peter Clottey that President Museveni’s action is contemptible.
“As you know very well, the LRA has been committed to the peace process, and we have been doing all our obligations. For the last two years since these peace talks started the government of Uganda has been telling us they will handle the issue of ICC, but they have not done anything at all. We have signed agenda number two, number three, and number four, which is ceasefire, and we have reached a stage like now and we said hold, stop. How can we sign all these documents and continue signing when the government cannot make a move on preparing itself and mechanisms, which they can show and tell us how they can remove the indictments of our commanders who have been indicted by the ICC,” Matsanga noted.
He said there was no way the talks can make any more progress if the Uganda government fails to have the ICC-issued indictments on the rebel leadership removed.
“That is why today we have made a very, very clear stand that the talks have reached a stage where we need the Uganda government to tell the whole world, when are they going to remove the indictments against General Joseph Kony and the other commanders,” he said.
Matsanga reiterated that President Museveni’s government needs to do more in order to find a lasting solution to the lengthy rebel insurgency.
“Let me tell you frankly, if they (government) do not move, we are not moving. We are not going to move if they don’t remove the ICC warrant against General Joseph Kony. Please let the world hear it is not anymore. We are not going to move. We are prepared to talk about it with the Uganda government, but on condition that they will tell us how they are going to remove the warrants. Let me tell you something. They have already signed that they, General Kony and other commanders would be subjected to alternative means of justice. Why don’t they come out and tell the whole world how they are going to remove the warrants,” Matsanga pointed out.
He said LRA rebel leader Kony would not surrender until the ICC issued arrest warrant is removed.
“You expect Kony to go and sign when he has a warrant on him? He asked.
Matsanga said the rebel delegation protested to the south Sudanese mediator against what he described as the government’s lackadaisical attitude towards the peace negotiations.
“We have told Dr. Riek Machar. In fact we have now stormed out. We have told the world and I have said hold it, and that we are not going to take any more chances with the Uganda government’s delaying tactics of delaying and telling us lies for twos years,” Matsanga said.