LRA Vows To Fight ICC
â€œI am ready to defend myself with the weapon I have right now in my hands against anyone who will attempt to come and arrest us here,â€? said a tough speaking Otti.
(LRA's Otti, right, shown with Kony, vows to fight ICC arrest attempt).
The slow moving Uganda peace talks hit another snag when it was revealed that the government in a secret letter said it was still committed to the arrest and indictment of top rebel commanders. The letter would contradict Uganda president Yoweri Museveni’s public offer of an Amnesty to the rebels’ chiefs, in a bid to conclude a peace deal.
A Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel commander vowed to fight anyone trying to execute the International Criminal Court’s indictments against top commanders—this comes days after the Uganda government wrote a letter to the ICC, conveying its firm desire to have the rebel leaders apprehended and prosecuted for war crimes. The ICC unsealed indictments last October against four top LRA leaders.
Recently, the ICC had written to Uganda, the DR Congo and Sudan, on September 25, for a status report on the execution of the arrest warrants. The ICC gave the three countries 12 days to respond.
Reacting to the Uganda government letter, Vincent Otti, the LRA’s second top commander says his group would fight anyone attempting to arrest him while executing the warrants, including against Joseph Kony, the leader.
Otti said Uganda’s failure to withdraw the indictments remains a big obstacle for a comprehensive peace agreement between his LRA and Uganda government. “ICC is the greatest obstacle in all what I see and unless they are withdrawn, we shall not leave here for anywhere,” he said, of the indictment. “I am ready to defend myself with the weapon I have right now in my hands against anyone who will attempt to come and arrest us here,” said a tough speaking Otti.
However, Otti maintained that the rebel leadership remains committed to the peace talks raging on in the Southern Sudanese city of Juba. “They can do what they want but for us we are still committed to the peace talks. We shall not move out of this place until we see something meaningful from the government side. I know they might be having a plan on us if we move out of this place before they withdraw the indictments on us so that’s why we shall also not leave here until they do otherwise”.
The government of Southern Sudan has been trying to broker a deal to end 20 years of war between the Uganda army and the LRA. Uganda officials have been meeting LRA representatives in Juba, capital of Southern Sudan, amid accusations by both sides of ceasefire violations—the parties in August had signed a deal to temporarily halt hostilities.
The rebels reported quit designated encampment points, asserting that Uganda troops had surrounded them in violation of the temporary accord. Uganda military officials deny this.
Ssebaggala writes for The Black Star from Uganda.
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