Global Policy Forum

I Cannot Betray Kony – Museveni


By Grace Matsiko, Frank Nyakairu and Emmanuel Gyezaho

August 16, 2006

The leader of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army, Joseph Kony, and his other indicted commanders have received two fresh guarantees for their safety - one from President Museveni and the other from the United Nations. Mr Museveni told the new Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), which is mediating an end to the 20-year insurgency in northern Uganda, that he will not betray the indicted rebel leader, once a comprehensive peace agreement is signed. He said once a deal is sealed, he would not turn around and hand Kony and four of his commanders indicted for war crimes to The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) like the Nigerian authorities did to former Liberian leader Charles Taylor. At the height of the decade-long civil war in Liberia, Mr Taylor was forced out of government, with Nigeria offering him asylum only to succumb to US pressure and hand him over to the ICC for prosecution.

Daily Monitor established yesterday that the United Nations has also allayed earlier fears that Kony or his deputy Vincent Otti would be arrested once they set foot in the South Sudan capital of Juba for peace talks. Speaking about the guarantees, the South Sudan, Vice President and chief mediator Dr Riek Machar, told the government negotiators led by the Internal Affairs Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, at his office yesterday, that President Museveni had already communicated his commitment to the government of South Sudan. "The President of Uganda has informed us that he will not do a Charles Taylor way on Kony (sic) and the other commanders," Dr Machar said.

Museveni's assurances are meant to dispel fears within the rebel ranks that the government would easily hand them over to the ICC once they denounce rebellion. Taylor was arrested as he tried to flee Nigeria but many believed the authorities there connived to have him captured so as to hand him over to the war crimes tribunal where he faces 17 counts of crimes against humanity. But the southern regional coordinator of Sudan' s UN Mission [Unmis] Mr James Ellery said on Monday that the UN has no plans to arrest Kony and his commanders, despite a deliberate attempt by the rebel leader and Otti to stay away from the Juba peace talks for fear of abduction.

"The U.N. is absolutely supportive of the ICC, however, there are no plans to make arrests in Sudan. Therefore that should not be used as an excuse for Kony and Otti not to show up" Ellery told Reuters. Ellery, who praised the South Sudan initiative in brokering the peace talks, said, "The next stage has to be between the Ugandan leadership and LRA leadership. Kony and Otti better get themselves involved, otherwise they will become irrelevant" Yesterday, Unmis had offered expert opinion on ceasefire talks but the session scheduled for 2pm failed to take off because parties were not present at the talk's venue. It also emerged yesterday that the government wants Parliament to vet MPs keen on participating at the Juba peace talks. This move follows the government's objection to a list of legislators and leaders from the northern region it regards as opposition elements, who have formally been invited by Dr Machar to participate at the Juba discussions as observers. "Our position is that if the government of Uganda wants to have MPs on the talks, Parliament should select those MPs and clear them to have them here," Capt Paddy Ankunda, the spokesman for the government team, said.

Ankunda said this position was communicated to Dr. Machar during the meeting the Kampala team held with him. "We told him that these groups, which are coming, need to be authenticated and authorized by the government of Uganda,"he said. But Gulu Chairman Norbert Mao protested yesterday saying the government's objection to their presence at the talks was "simply misguided." Said Mao: "I want to speak to Dr Machar and get assurance over his invitation. These people [government] don' t know what they are talking about. We just don't want to go and hang around the hotel. We want to go inside and listen to the proceedings of the talks"

Ankunda said Machar, re-affirmed his desire to see a senior LRA commander present for the last stage of the talks so that decisions are taken faster and expeditiously. The Kampala delegation, Ankunda said, was told by Machar that a ceasefire should not be a condition for the talks to resume between the government and the LRA. "His Excellency Machar also told us that he agreed with us that we need a ceasefire monitoring mechanism in the event that the peace agreement is signed," Ankunda said. He said Machar confirmed that he had received firm commitment from the LRA that they are ready to continue with the talks.

More Information on International Justice
More Information on Joseph Kony
More Information on the ICC Investigations in Uganda
More Information on Charles Taylor
More Information on the International Criminal Court
More Information on Uganda


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