Congo Watch: Uganda Army spokesman Major Felix Kulayigye denied official knowledge of Odhiambo’s reported plans to surrender or defect

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Uganda Army spokesman Major Felix Kulayigye denied official knowledge of Odhiambo’s reported plans to surrender or defect

From The East African
Mystery over LRA deputy’s offer to surrender to govt
By HALIMA ABDALLAH K.
Posted Saturday, February 7 2009

The Lord’s Resistance Army second-in-command, Okot Odhiambo may surrender, but his chances of amnesty remain bleak as the army wants him to account for his actions.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) last week confirmed that Odhiambo had contacted them offering to surrender to government forces with the IOM as an observer but it denied knowledge of Odhiambo’s whereabouts.

On the other hand, Uganda Army spokesman Major Felix Kulayigye denied official knowledge of Odhiambo’s reported plans to surrender or defect but insisted he must account for his actions.

“The army does not know where he is but if he really plans to surrender, we shall receive him, but he must account for his actions,” said Kulayigye.

Equally, the Amnesty Commission, the body set up by an Act of parliament to handle pardon and repatriation for surrendering rebels, told The EastAfrican that it had not received any request to prepare for Odhiambo’s impending surrender from either the government or the IOM.

Commission Chairman Justice Peter Onega said that even if he received a request, he would consult the government because Odhiambo still faces ICC indictments.

According to the current law, should Odhiambo surrender, he would be eligible for amnesty regardless of the crimes, but it would be a contradiction for him to be granted amnesty when it is the government that accused him at the ICC, Onega said.

Analysts say that it is this situation that has left the government unsure of what to do. Some people have even speculated that Odhiambo could already be in Ugandan custody but the government must first find a way out of the legal maze before making the news public.

LRA and government negotiators reached an agreement after nearly two years of negotiations in the Southern Sudanese capital of Juba, but LRA leader Joseph Kony refused to sign the deal, paving the way for the joint operation against him by the armies of Uganda, Southern Sudan and the DRC.

In its statements, the IOM said the LRA commander was to surrender with 85 people including abductees and combatants, although it later amended its statement to deny that the wanted commander would come into its custody.

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