Ugandan Rebels Say They Won't Assemble Until They Get Clean Water
RI-KWANGBA, Sudan Two top leaders of the Ugandan rebel group Lord's Resistance Army refused Wednesday to honor their agreement with the government to assemble at neutral camps, saying the camps lacked sufficient clean water.
LRA leader Joseph Kony was 500 meters (yards) from Ri-Kwangba, one of two camps established as part of a cease-fire last month with the government, his deputy Vincent Otti told reporters Wednesday near the camp.
"All of us, even Joseph Kony," are in the vicinity, but there was not enough clean water at the camp for everyone, Otti said.
Under the truce, the rebels will be protected and monitored at the camps while a broader peace deal is negotiated to end the 19-year insurgency. The assembly points are at Ri-Kwangba, just north of the border with Congo, and Owiny-Ki-Bul, just north of the Ugandan border.
More than 800 rebels had arrived at the camps in uninhabited areas of southern Sudan by Tuesday, the deadline set three weeks ago, said Maj. Gen. Wilson Deng, chairman of a Sudanese team set up to monitor the LRA. The government gave a last-minute extension, but has not specified how much longer the rebels have to gather.
Five LRA leaders, including Kony and Otti, are wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni says he won't turn them over if they end the insurgency.
U.N. officials estimate the group has kidnapped 20,000 children in the past two decades, turning the boys into soldiers and the girls into sex slaves for rebel commanders.
If both sides reach a comprehensive deal, it will be a major breakthrough in pacifying the volatile region comprising northern Uganda, eastern Congo and southern Sudan. Rebels from all three nations operated across the borders with impunity for decades until a peace accord halted Congo's civil war in 2003 and southern Sudanese rebels joined Sudan's government in 2005.
The Lord's Resistance Army was formed from the remnants of a northern Uganda rebellion that began in 1986 after Museveni, a southerner, overthrew a brutal military junta.
Kony mixed northern politics with religious mysticism, declaring himself a Christian prophet fighting to rule this country of 26 million people by the Ten Commandments.
Source: Associated Press