CAPTURED Ugandan Lord''s Resistance Army rebel chief Dominic Ongwen, wanted by the International Criminal Court, has urged ex-comrades to come out of the bush and end their rebellion
CAPTURED Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army rebel chief Dominic Ongwen, wanted by the International Criminal Court, has urged ex-comrades to come out of the bush and end their rebellion.
Ongwen, who surrendered to US special forces in the Central African Republic last week, also said he would get a pardon from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. Government has not responded to the claims.
"I realised that I was wasting my time in the bush," Ongwen said in an appeal for his former comrades to surrender, in remarks that initially aired on local radio in the Central African Republic.
"I have studied the LRA and found that the LRA has no future. You all know how brave I was, but if I decided to come out, then what are you still doing there?"
The LRA have been blamed for the slaughter of over 100,000 people and kidnapping of more than 60,000 children during a three-decade-long campaign across five central African nations.
As a former LRA commander, Ongwen faces trial at the ICC for crimes against humanity and war crimes.
"I am now a free man despite the ICC case against me. If I can come back then what about you who have no case? Come back home if you don't want to die," Ongwen said in the first interview with the elusive rebel for almost a decade.
"Even the president has agreed to forgive me since I have surrendered on my own."
Ongwen remains in US custody. Should he be handed over, Uganda has made no announcement as to whether they would want to try Ongwen in Kampala or would comply with legal obligations to send him to The Hague-based ICC.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have said he must face trial to give his victims "long-awaited justice".
AFP could not independently verify the recording, but LRA expert Ledio Cakaj said that information in the interview suggested it was genuine.
A former child soldier himself, Ongwen was a senior aide to LRA leader and warlord Joseph Kony and the United States had offered $5 million for information for his capture.
Ongwen said he fled because Kony had wanted to kill him, telling comrades he "only wants to be chief and for you to work for him like a slave, for him and his family."
Ongwen urges LRA comrades to surrender