LRA deputy commander Okot Odhiambo will benefit from amnesty, Uganda's President said Yoweri Museveni yesterday.
LRA deputy commander Okot Odhiambo will benefit from amnesty, the President said yesterday.
President Yoweri Museveni said LRA leader Joseph Kony would also have been forgiven had he signed the peace agreement in Juba, South Sudan, last April.
The President made the comments while addressing a press conference at State House, Nakasero, yesterday.
Museveni said although he did not believe in forgiving wrong-doers, Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu Diocese and Bishop Baker Ochola of Kitgum diocese had convinced him about the need for forgiveness in Acholi, which bore the brunt of the two-decade-long war.
The Juba agreement provided for Mato-Oput (traditional justice), which entails forgiveness, Museveni said. The agreement also called for the prosecution of rebels who committed serious crimes.
Odhiambo was forced to surrender after the UPDF, the DR. Congo and South Sudan forces attacked rebel camps in Congoâ€™s Garamba jungles. He called the International Organisation for Migration to help him surrender.
Col. Moses Rwakitarate, the deputy commander of Operation Lightning Thunder, as the joint offensive is called, said a 10-km radius had been created to allow Odhiambo move to the assembly point in Ri-Kwangba, South Sudan.
International Criminal Court indictee Dominic Ongwen, who also wants to surrender, can use the same safe passage.
Explaining the failure of the peace deal, Museveni said northern politicians, led by Chua MP Okello Okello and Aswa MP Reagan Okumu, misled Kony.
By Monday, the President said 280 abductees had been rescued; 130 reporting to UPDF and 165 to Congolese forces. Most of the rescued are Sudanese and Congolese. He said 40 LRA fighters had been confirmed dead.
Museveni regretted that Kony took advantage of the two-year peace talks to recruit 240 fighters and conscript abductees, otherwise he would have been defeated long ago. He also blamed elements that wanted to save Kony.
Answering Arua resident district commissioner, Rtd. Maj. Ibrahim Abiriga, who said rebels had infiltrated West Nile, Museveni said such a thing could not happen easily. The army, he said, had become more advanced.
Reacting to the UN humanitarian chief, John Holmes, who described the current operation in Congo as catastrophic after the rebels killed 900 civilians, Museveni said he would not bend to terrorist blackmail. â€œThe UN man said a lot of nonsense because we cannot accept blackmail,â€ Museveni said. â€œI am in the Security Council I will sort him there.â€
He said the greater disaster was that â€œthe UN force was sitting for three years in Congo side-by-side with terroristsâ€.
Museveni said just like Milton Obote killed 300,000 people in Luweero Triangle during the NRAâ€™s guerrilla war, the 900 civilians massacred by LRA in the DRC were unfortunate.
Museveni said sacrifices are always paid by people in a bad situation. â€œThey (Congolese) sacrificed in order to pay for a bigger haemorrhage of human life,â€ he added.
The killings occurred because the rebel held areas could not be reached even with social services. Consequently many more people were dying from malaria, HIV and immunisable diseases.
Odhiambo wonâ€™t face world court