A Ugandan rebel leader wanted for war crimes may be in Sudan, whose President Omar Hassan al-Bashir is wanted by the same war crimes tribunal, Uganda’s president said.
President Yoweri Museveni said that Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group, was forced out of the Democratic Republic of Congo about a month ago. He fled to the Central African Republic and from there to Sudan’s Darfur region, he said.
“I was told by our intelligence that he disappeared to Central African Republic. He again left that place and our forces say he disappeared with a small group which is wandering in Darfur,” Museveni told a news conference at his party headquarters.
Kony and Bashir are wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. The ICC issued a warrant for Kony and other senior LRA commanders, who remain in hiding.
The Sudanese president is wanted by the court on charges of “war crimes and crimes against humanity” for his alleged role in the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.
Last week, the Washington-based anti-genocide group Enough Project said a contingent of the Lord’s Resistance Army notorious for mutilating its victims and abducting children had sought refuge in western Darfur. Khartoum dismissed it as a lie.
Museveni said Uganda would prefer to try Kony itself if he is captured.
“If we got Kony, we would try him here, not in The Hague. Here we shall hang him but if you send him to The Hague they will just put him in a hotel,” he said.
Khartoum has been suspected of supporting the LRA in the past, but it is not clear how the Sudanese government, which is making peace overtures towards rebel groups, could benefit from helping the LRA in Darfur.
Many LRA training camps have been dismantled and some rebels disarmed by UN-backed Congolese soldiers, but the guerrillas still attack civilians in Congo, Central African Republic and border regions in semi-autonomous south Sudan.
“But what I can assure Ugandans is that Kony will never come back here. He is thousands of miles away. On whether Sudan is supporting him, that’s their problem because even if they support him, he won’t come back here,” Museveni said.
Pic: Joseph Kony