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Page last updated at 12:12 GMT, Monday, 1 December 2008

Uganda rebel 'threatened on deal'

Joseph Kony
Joseph Kony is accused of numerous war crimes

Ugandan rebel chief Joseph Kony has said he is stalling on a long-awaited peace agreement amid threats to his life, says an opposition politician.

Mediators had hoped the LRA leader would finally sign a deal at the weekend but returned home empty-handed.

Norbert Mao told the BBC Mr Kony said he had been warned he would be killed if he returned to his home village.

Mr Kony also claimed hard-line rebels would brand him a traitor while the army had made threats too, Mr Mao said.

On Monday, negotiator Joaquim Chissano, Mozambique's former president, is due to meet Ugandan elders - who held talks with Mr Kony - to clarify what is holding up the peace deal.

There are those in the diaspora who used to be his backers and he said they sent him a message saying if he signs he will be considered a traitor
Norbert Mao

After tortuous two-year negotiations, analysts warn the Ugandan peace process is on the verge of collapse.

Mr Kony has previously refused to sign the agreement until arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court against him and his fellow rebel leaders are withdrawn.

Uganda's government has said it will only request that after he has laid down his weapons.

Text threat

Mr Chissano had hoped the Lord's Resistance Army leader would finally sign the agreement between the rebels and the Ugandan government over the weekend in a remote area of South Sudan near the Congolese border.

The former Mozambican leader has said the ceremony was delayed because of technical problems.

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Mr Mao, an opposition politician in Gulu, northern Uganda, told the BBC's Network Africa programme: "He [Mr Kony] said he had got an SMS from a top military commander here in Gulu threatening that even if he signs he will still be fought militarily.

"Secondly he claimed that he had got a call from someone who comes form his village in Odek in Gulu saying that if he returns there's a likelihood of him being killed as part of revenge because of the murders he's [allegedly] responsible for in this part of the country.

"Finally there are those in the diaspora who used to be his backers and they have split from him and they're planning to set up another group and he said they sent him a message saying if he signs he will be considered a traitor and for them, they will continue with the fight."

Mr Mao said the latest delay was "annoying and disappointing" and accused the rebel chief of making excuses.

Meanwhile the Ugandan army was reportedly preparing to attack Mr Kony.

Army spokesman Maj Paddy Ankunda told privately-owned Ugandan newspaper The Daily Monitor the rebel chief had already "played his games to the last limit".

"Now that he has failed to sign the peace agreement, he should know that the world and regional governments will hunt for him," Maj Ankunda was quoted as saying.

The LRA has led a rebellion for more than 20 years which has displaced some two million people in northern Uganda.

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