Ugandan rebel fails to turn up for peace deal signing

KAMPALA (AFP) — Rebel supremo Joseph Kony failed to turn up Saturday to sign an overdue peace agreement with Kampala aimed at ending Uganda's two-decade-long civil war in the north, an official said.

A signing ceremony was to be held in Ri-Kwangba, a jungle town in southern Sudan, for the Lord's Resistance Army leader to ink the deal finalised in April and already signed by Uganda's government.

"I can tell you that they have not met Kony yet," army spokesman Major Paddy Ankunda told AFP at around 1500 GMT. "It is getting dark now and our people cannot be out there once it is dark."

A group of Ugandan government officials, as well as religious and cultural leaders from northern Uganda -- the region most affect by the civil war -- travelled to Ri-Kwangba hoping Kony would turn up to sign the peace agreement.

Ankunda did not say whether the delegation would remain in Ri-Kwangba longer to wait for Kony.

On Friday, the government urged Kony to sign the agreement, but voiced doubt whether the elusive rebel leader would show up for the signing.

A lawmaker from Uganda's northern Gulu district said Friday that if Kony spurns the signing ceremony he would be "really fooling our people and wasting our time."

"But I would argue that you can and should proceed with peace and reconciliation without LRA involvement," said Betty Ocan Aol.

Peace talks sponsored by Sudan and the United Nations halted in April when Kony refused to sign a peace accord, because of arrest warrants against him and his lieutenants from the International Criminal Court over war crimes.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and nearly two million displaced in the two decades of fighting between the Lord's Resistance Army and the government.


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