Friday, August 22, 2008

LRA chief Kony won't sign a peace accord with Uganda until an international warrant for his arrest is withdrawn

By Eric Ombok and Karl Maier
August 22, 2008 (Bloomberg) - Ugandan Rebel Kony Wants Arrest Warrant Withdrawn (Update1):

Joseph Kony, the leader of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army, won't sign a peace accord with Uganda until an international warrant for his arrest is withdrawn, a spokesman for the group said.

Kony will demand the lifting of the warrant at a scheduled Aug. 24 meeting with the United Nations special envoy, former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, and Southern Sudan's vice president, Riek Machar, at Ri-Kwangba, a camp on Sudan's border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, the spokesman said.

"Kony is going to tell the world that he would append his signature, but the warrants are here,'' LRA spokesman David Nyekorach Matsanga told reporters today in Kenya's capital, Nairobi. Kony is prepared to be tried under Uganda's traditional and formal legal systems, he said.

Kony, a former Catholic altar boy who says the LRA is inspired by the Ten Commandments, is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes such as murder, mutilation, rape and the abduction of thousands of children as soldiers.

In April, Kony refused to sign a final peace agreement because he wanted assurances about his safety. Uganda's government said last month it won't meet the rebels again until they sign the accord.

The LRA justifies its rebellion by saying forces loyal to President Yoweri Museveni attacked the Acholi people, who formed the rank and file of the Ugandan army, after he overthrew Tito Okello, an Acholi, in 1986. The majority of the LRA are from the Acholi.

As the war intensified, the LRA targeted local villagers and abducted children to use as soldiers, porters and sex slaves, Amnesty International and other rights groups said.

The Ugandan government responded by forcing almost 2 million civilians, including about 90 percent of the Acholi people, into "protected villages,'' according to rights groups such as Amnesty and Human Rights Watch.

To contact the reporters on this story: Eric Ombok in Nairobi via Johannesburg at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net; Karl Maier in Rome at kmaier2@bloomberg.net.

Last Updated: August 22, 2008 04:38 EDT
Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601116&sid=apC3chpDCdaM&refer=africa

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