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Uganda rebel fails to sign deal

Joseph Kony
Joseph Kony is accused of numerous war crimes

Mediators are returning to their base after the Ugandan rebel leader, Joseph Kony, failed to sign a peace deal.

The mediation team is expected to return to the remote area near the Congolese border on Sunday to try once more to have the deal signed.

During the tortuous two-year negotiations, Mr Kony has failed to appear on several previous occasions.

The mediation effort is being led by former Mozambiquan President Joaquim Chissano and Sudan's Riek Machar.

They are returning to the Southern Sudanese capital, Juba, leaving some of their team on the ground, hoping that the process can be brought to a successful conclusion on Sunday.

Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army rebel leader Mr Kony has not showed up to previous signing ceremonies on several occasions during two years of protracted negotiations.

Mr Kony has in the past blamed the Ugandan government for jeopardising the talks, by moving troops into the area, in an attempt to assassinate him.

Earlier, Uganda's government said it would ask for arrest warrants for Mr Kony to be lifted if he signed.

But Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa made it clear that Mr Kony must sign the deal first before the issue of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was addressed.

"We were only prepared to talk to the ICC about an alternative method of resolving that dispute, and also of justice in the country, only if peace is going to come to the people of northern Uganda," he told the BBC's World Today programme.

I think that the UN Security Council would facilitate because the alternative is to have Kony forever in the jungles of Congo
UN mediator Joachim Chissano

He added that as far as the government was concerned Mr Kony was the only serious obstacle to a final peace agreement being signed by the two sides.

"Our people are ready to sign any time, but Kony is the one who has been eluding us," he said.

Before today's setback Mr Chissano told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that he understood Mr Kony was heading to the signing ceremony in Ri Kwangba in South Sudan from his jungle hideout in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Optimistic

The UN special envoy said he could not guarantee that Mr Kony would sign this time, but he was optimistic.

"I don't have reasons to doubt that he'll not show up, because all the indications which he gave coming up to now are encouraging so I'm more confident than a few weeks ago," he said.

A one-year suspension by UN Security Council of the arrest warrants would give the government time to prove that it was able to deal with the matter, Mr Chissano said.

"I think that the UN Security Council would facilitate because the alternative is to have Kony forever in the jungles of Congo."

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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