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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Kony arrest warrant still stands - ICC

JUBA - The international arrest warrants against Joseph Kony and two of his commanders still stand, the International Criminal Court said in a statement yesterday. The announcement came two days after the LRA and the Government of Uganda signed a landmark agreement on trying serious crimes at a special division of the High Court in Uganda. “The office of the prosecutor is not a party to the peace process,” the ICC statement from The Hague said. “The arrest warrants against the LRA commanders were issued by the court and remain in effect.”

The indictments can only be lifted when the ICC judges determine whether national trials are an adequate alternative to prosecution, it explained. “A challenge to the admissibility of the case remains hypothetical and, in any event, would be a matter for the judges of the court to decide upon.” The prosecutor noted with concern the allegations of recent LRA atrocities in South Sudan and the movement of LRA personnel into or towards the Central African Republic,” the statement added. UN security reports have confirmed that a well-armed group of 200 LRA entered CAR on February 18. The UN mission in South Sudan also raised the security alert after reports of LRA attacks on villages between Yei and Kajo-Keji, in which SPLA soldiers and civilians were killed.

Meanwhile, the peace talks hit another stalemate after the Ugandan Government rejected the new demands tabled by the LRA. The LRA, in a document on Tuesday, asked for five ministerial, five ambassadorial, two District commissioners and 20 senior positions in Government. The power-sharing is part of Agenda No. 2 for the comprehensive solutions that is being discussed under the chairmanship of the Vice-President of South Sudan, Dr. Riek Machar. “That is what the LRA high command has agreed on, we can not settle for anything less than that,” the leader of the LRA team, David Nyekorach Matsanga, said. He added that they had discussed the issue with President Yoweri Museveni during the time of consultations in Kampala. “He (Museveni) said he was willing to allow Gen. Joseph Kony and other LRA officers to maintain their ranks. He also said they can have a battalion of their own under the UPDF,” Matsanga stated.

But the Government delegation spokesman, Capt. Chris Magezi, dismissed the demands as unconstitutional. He said the Government would not allow demands that would disrupt the existing political momentum in the country. “Participation in national politics and institutions in Uganda is guided by the constitution of Uganda. To get political power, you must stand for elections.” He also questioned whether the LRA were the legitimate representatives of the people of northern Uganda. “The LRA has no mandate to claim that they are representing the people of northern and north eastern Uganda, because the people there have their legitimately elected leaders.” He said there was a system of recruitment and promotion in the public service and the army. “In the army, ranks come with responsibility and the UPDF is not about to compromise those standards,” he explained. “LRA combatants who qualify and wish to join the UPDF will be integrated, undergo formal processes of training and promotions, and be given ranks according to their responsibilities.”

The mediator adjourned the talks to allow both sides to consult among themselves and their higher authorities. Both the LRA team and the Government team were locked in separate marathon meetings in their hotels all day yesterday.

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