Thursday, June 29, 2006
LONDON, June 28 -- The leader of a cult-like Ugandan rebel force accused of kidnapping thousands of children and mutilating civilians told British news organizations that he wants to talk peace.
Joseph Kony, founder of the Lord's Resistance Army, said he was innocent of the crimes against humanity charges he faces in an international court. He said he was guided by spirits and started his two-decade-old uprising because he wanted Uganda to be ruled by the Ten Commandments.
"Peace talks are good for me," Kony said in an interview conducted in a camp in Congo near the borders of Sudan and Uganda. The interview, which appeared to have been conducted in recent weeks, was with a freelance journalist who reported for the Times of London and the BBC. It was posted on the BBC's Web site and published by the Times on Wednesday.
Kony's public appearances and statements are rare, but last month he appeared in a video meeting with southern Sudanese leaders.
Last year, the International Criminal Court indicted Kony and his top four commanders on charges of crimes against humanity. In a statement Wednesday, the court's top prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, offered Kony safe passage to The Hague to respond in court to the charges.
Kony's political agenda has always been murky, obscured by claims that he was guided by spirits and the Bible.
Kony said President Yoweri Museveni's soldiers, not his men, had cut off the ears and lips of civilians in northern Uganda. He also said the International Criminal Court indictment stemmed from propaganda spread by Museveni.
Ugandan officials dismissed Kony's accusations as "absurd."