Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Sudan wants ICC Kony trial delayed

June 21, 2006 Monitor Online F Nyakairu, S Kasyate & Agencies report:
The Southern Sudanese government has said it wants the International Criminal Court to delay the trial of rebel leader Joseph Kony to give way for peace negotiations.

The Vice President, Mr Riek Machar, said on Tuesday that the Hague-based ICC should publicly endorse his government's peace initiative with the LRA.

"If the ICC came out to say that they would give the peace process a chance before the legal process is done, then we would resolve the conflict in the region," Machar said in his office in the southern capital Juba.

"If they did that, they would give the peace process a big boost. It would assist the Ugandan government to boldly say 'we are going to negotiate'."

Machar has led efforts by the south Sudanese government to mediate an end to the 19-year uprising in northern Uganda by the LRA, which has staged attacks from bases in neighbouring Sudan since the mid-1990s.

The ICC issued arrest warrants for Kony, who claims mystical inspiration for his rebellion, and his four top commanders in October, detailing various counts including murder, sexual enslavement and rape.

The warrants divided opinion in Kony's native northern Uganda, where civic and religious groups feared they would make it harder to convince LRA commanders to stop fighting.

The Rights activists, the United Nations and the International Criminal Court are strongly opposed to the talks as the United States says it will back any option.

British High Commissioner Francois Gordon has added his voice in support of International Criminal Court's warrants of arrest for the principal leaders of the Lord's resistance Army LRA.

Speaking at the Queen's Birthday party at his residence on Tuesday, Gordon pledged his government's support in returning to their homes, the internally displaced people, who for two decades, have lived in protected camps.

"The United Kingdom will spare no effort ... to work to archive the return to their homes of the dispossessed and the development of the north, as well as to do all we can do is to support the execution of the warrants issued by the International Criminal Court against the principal leaders of the LRA," he said.

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