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UN pledges no arrest of Uganda rebels during peace talks with government

[JURIST] Leaders of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) [BBC backgrounder] will not be arrested if they attend peace talks with the Ugandan government in Sudan, a UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) [official website] official said Monday. The talks began in July but were adjourned last week because the rebels and government could not agree on terms to halt hostilities in Uganda [JURIST news archive]. Though the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] has several outstanding indictments against LRA leaders, UNMIS southern region coordinator James Ellery said "there are no plans to make arrests in Sudan," so LRA leaders should not use the indictments as "an excuse" to avoid the talks.

To entice LRA leader Joseph Kony [BBC profile] and other top rebels to the peace talks, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni [official website; BBC profile] offered conditional amnesty [JURIST report] to Kony in July if he denounced terrorism. LRA leaders promptly rejected the amnesty offer [JURIST report], saying that accepting amnesty "presupposes surrender" and would mean the LRA is no longer available to discussion. In yet another attempt to bring Kony to the table, Ugandan Security Minister Amama Mbabazi asked the ICC to retract its indictments [JURIST report] accusing several LRA leaders of war crimes. Kony was indicted by the ICC [JURIST report; PDF arrest warrant] along with four LRA lieutenants last October on charges that they orchestrated the killing of thousands of civilians and the enslavement of thousands more children over two decades of conflict with Museveni's government. Reuters has more. AP and the Sudan Tribune have additional coverage.

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