There are reports that Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony is about to sign a peace deal with the government to end the 20-year rebellion in the north. Kony is the leader of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA). The group refused to sign the peace agreement in April because of international arrest warrants against him.
Major Paddy Ankunda, the spokesperson of the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces, told VOA English to Africa reporter Douglas Mpuga that he hopes that this time Kony will keep his word and sign the peace agreement.
"Well, we do not know whether it's for real," he said, "but we hope it is. He (Kony) has said that before and never turned up for the signing. But if he turns up this time, that is what we have always looked forward to."
He said members of the Ugandan peace delegation are preparing to go for the signing and hope the LRA and Kony will turn up. "But if they don't we will not be surprised. It's not the first time he has promised to sign the agreement only to fail to show up."
Regarding the International Criminal Court (ICC) indictments and arrest warrants for LRA leaders, Maj Ankunda said that only when Kony signs the peace agreement will the Ugandan government engage the United Nations and the ICC to try to lift the indictments.
He noted that he thinks the rebel leader is beginning to realize that he (Kony) can only find safety in signing a peace agreement. "And this is what we have told him all along," he said.
Ankunda revealed that if the agreement is signed, the next step will be the implementation of the provisions of the agreement, including assembling the rebels and the entire process of demobilization, disarmament and reintegration.
He said the Ugandan delegation will be leaving this Friday for the signing ceremony scheduled to take place at Ri-Kwangba in Southern Sudan.The 20-year LRA-led rebellion has displaced some two million people in northern Uganda.