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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 January 2008, 14:16 GMT
Obituary: LRA deputy Vincent Otti
By Noel Mwakugu
BBC News, Nairobi

Vincent Otti (file photo)
Vincent Otti was wanted by The Hague for war crimes
Vincent Otti was a humble shopkeeper near the main Makerere University in Uganda's capital, Kampala, before taking up arms with the Lord's Resistance Army from its inception in 1987.

He saw himself as fighting for the rights of the people of northern Uganda against the "oppressive" regime of President Yoweri Museveni.

Before his death at the age of 61, Otti had risen to the position of vice-chairman, second-in-command to Joseph Kony, and was described as a member of the "Control Altar", the core leadership group within the LRA ranks that devised strategy.

He shared Mr Kony's belief that Uganda should not know peace unless it adopted a constitution along the lines of the Biblical Ten Commandments.

More recently the LRA second-in-command played a key role in peace talks and spoke of looking forward to returning home and seeing LRA fighters demobilised or integrated into the Ugandan army.

War crimes

Over the course of its 20-year insurgency, the LRA and its senior commanders became notorious for brutality.

LRA leader Joseph Kony (l) and his no 2 Vincent Otti (r) in DRC (File photo)
Otti (r) was a close ally of Joseph Kony (l) for two decades

Vincent Otti was one of four LRA leaders indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes with an arrest warrant issued in July 2005 which details 33 separate crimes committed between mid-2002 and 2005.

The ICC indictment refers to the LRA having established a cycle of violence and a pattern of brutalising civilians with acts that included "murder, abduction, sexual enslavement, mutilation, mass burnings of houses and looting of camp settlements (...) as well as abducting civilians, including children, and forcing them to work as fighters, porters and sex slaves".

Among the crimes of which he was personally accused, Lt Gen Otti was alleged to have led the infamous Balonyo massacre in south east Gulu, where more than 300 villagers were shot, hacked and burnt to death in February 2004.

A defiant Otti maintained that the ICC warrants had no effect on his life nor on the other top commanders who remained at the LRA base in Garamba national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"They will let down the peace process and the outcome will affect Ugandans themselves. Because if we do not come out of hiding, it means that peace will not return to Uganda," Otti told UN news agency IRIN.


Some commentators say Otti's key role in the ongoing peace talks mediated by South Sudan Vice-President Riak Machar in Juba, may have led to his downfall.

Late last year, there were reports of a split in the LRA leadership suggesting Mr Kony feared Otti was a threat to his own position.

Until Mr Kony's special envoy admitted Otti was dead in January, the LRA had claimed he was under house arrest, accused of being a government spy.

The details of his death still remain unclear, but a diplomatic briefing in December, based on witness testimony, claimed Otti was executed by fellow officers on the orders of Mr Kony.

It said Otti was summoned to Mr Kony's home in the jungle hideout, where senior commanders confronted him. He was led from the house, and was shot while begging for his life.

Later Mr Kony apparently told his followers Mr Otti had been attempting to kill him, after receiving foreign funds.


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