Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel leader Joseph Kony is expected to meet this Saturday with chief peace mediator and South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar. Talks to end the LRA’s 22-year insurgency slowed down on April 10 when Kony did not show up to sign the final peace agreement.
Meanwhile, an LRA delegation has been attending a workshop in Uganda’s capital, Kampala along with Uganda’s Principal Judge, Justice James Ogoola and traditional and local leaders from war-ravaged northern Uganda.
Ruhakana Rugunda is head of the Ugandan government’s negotiating team. He told the purpose of the workshop is to examine how Uganda’s traditional justice system known as Mato Put can cooperate with the formal legal system to satisfy the demand for peace and justice in northern Uganda.
“There have been consultations over the implementation of accountability and reconciliation. And this has necessitated the workshop between the traditional leaders from the conflict-affected areas plus the leadership of the judiciary to see how the legal system in Uganda and the traditional conflict resolution system will be used in order to implement the agreement that has been signed on accountability and reconciliation,” he said.
Talks to end the LRA’s 22-year insurgency stalled April 10 when LRA leader Kony did not show up to sign the final peace agreement.
Rugunda would not confirm or deny whether Kony might set a new date to sign the final peace deal during Saturday’s meeting with Riek Machar. But he said Kony is encouraged to attend Saturday’s meeting.
“We do not have confirmation for that meeting. But what we know is on the program is that traditional leaders from Uganda will meet Joseph Kony on the 10. We do expect that that meeting will take place of course on the condition that Kony comes for the meeting. So we are waiting to see what would happen on Saturday, to see whether Kony will come for the meeting or not. Nevertheless, we encourage him to come for the meeting. It is all for his own good and the good of Ugandans in that region and for peace,” Rugunda said.
He called on Kony to take advantage of the remaining window of opportunity and sign the final agreement because, Rugunda said, the peace process is not an open-ended venture.
The Ugandan government asked the International Criminal Court based in The Hague to investigate the LRA for war crimes, and in 2005 arrest warrants were issued for Kony and some of his top lieutenants. The LRA has said it would not disarm unless the ICC indictments are lifted
Rugunda said the ICC indictments are not the problem. In stead it is the problem of accountability.
“The International Criminal Court is not the problem. Actually the problem is to ensure that there is accountability and ensure that there is no impunity that is tolerated and to make sure that there is reconciliation and lasting peace. And that’s why the government of Uganda has agreed with the LRA to put in place accountability mechanisms and framework in Uganda to that Joseph Kony other LRA leaders and combatants who may have committed crimes can come and account, justice is done, and impunity deal with, he said.
Rugunda said once the accountability mechanisms are put in place, the government of Uganda would ask the ICC to review the indictments against the LRA leadership.