The Ugandan government says it is prepared to sign a final peace agreement with the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) even if the group's leader, Joseph Kony, is not at the ceremony.

Interior Minister Ruhakana Rugunda says the government is willing to sign the agreement with any other credible representative authorized by Kony.

The final peace accord is scheduled to be signed on April 5 during a ceremony in the southern Sudanese capital, Juba.

Kony, who is believed to be hiding in central African jungles, has said he would not sign the deal unless indictments by the International Criminal Court (ICC) are dropped.

On Tuesday, LRA representative David Matsanga said that rebels would not begin to implement the deal until the ICC lifts charges against Kony and his deputies.

He said Kony would sign the deal, but not in Juba because of the threat of arrest.

Uganda has said that once Kony signs a final deal, it will call on the ICC to drop its indictments.

The ICC accuses LRA commanders of being responsible for the slaughter of entire communities in northern Uganda, and for the abduction of thousands of children used as fighters and sex slaves.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the country's 21-year civil war.

President Museveni says the rebels will face a system of traditional justice that will not include prison terms.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.