LRA walks out on Uganda peace talks

Opposition leave talks, while world war crimes court says their arrest warrants remain.

    Kony, leader of the LRA, has been charged by the
    ICC for alleged atrocities in Uganda [EPA]

    LRA representatives, who have walked out on negotiations before, could not be reached for comment.

    The move came as the International Criminal Court (ICC) stated that they will continue to pursue armed opposition leaders in Uganda, despite a deal in the country to establish a domestic war crimes court.
    Arrest warrants
    The ICC said on Thursday that warrants against war crimes suspects in Uganda would remain, regardless of the agreement between Uganda's government and opposition fighters reached on Monday.
    The opposition fighters say any peace deal with the Ugandan government is dependent on international charges being dropped.
    "The office is very confident that the case for which warrants have been granted remains admissible," Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the international court's chief prosecutor, said.
    "A challenge to the admissibility of the case before the court remains hypothetical and, in any event, would be a matter for the judges of the court to decide upon."


    Joseph Kony, leader of the LRA, has already been charged with atrocities in the Hague-based ICC, along with two of his lieutenants.

    The three men are required to be handed over to the ICC immediately after capture or surrender, as per international law.

    The LRA is accused of carrying out attacks against civilians, in some cases by burning them or hacking off their limbs.

    In 2005, the ICC indicted the leaders for killing, sexual abuse, looting and child abduction, mainly from the Acholi people in northern Uganda.

    'Harming talks'

    The LRA said the ICC was harming efforts to reach a peace agreement in talks mediated by southern Sudan's semi-autonomous government.

    Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the 21-year conflict.

    "Going to the ICC will mean that Uganda's judiciary is non-functional," David Nyekorach-Matsanga, LRA's chief negotiator, said on Thursday.
    "We strongly appeal to the ICC to consider that the people have suffered very much in northern Uganda and withdraw those indictments so that peace can return," he said.

    The ICC said it was also concerned over allegations of continued killings by the LRA in southern Sudan, which the fighters deny.

    The international court was set up in 2002 to bring prosecutions for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

    Three Congolese armed opposition leaders are currently awaiting trial at the ICC, which has also issued arrest warrants over accusations of war crimes in Darfur.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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