(AFP) – Feb 6, 2009
JUBA, Sudan (AFP) — Two of three Ugandan rebel commanders wanted by the International Criminal Court plan to turn themselves in, further isolating top leader Joseph Kony, one of the would-be defectors said Friday.
Okot Odhiambo, who is believed to be Kony's number two in the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), had recently announced his intention to surrender to the Ugandan authorities.
"Dominic Ongwen is here with me, we are together," Odhiambo told AFP by phone from his jungle hide-out, adding they had 120 LRA fighters with them.
Odhiambo and Ongwen are wanted by the ICC over a raft of war crimes charges, including raping, killing civilians and forcibly enlisting child soldiers.
The two men decided to turn themselves in after the governments of Uganda, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo launched a joint military offensive to flush holdout LRA rebels in their border hide-outs.
Brigadier Patrick Kankiriho, the Ugandan army officer commanding the joint raid, was quoted in Friday's Monitor newspaper as saying that he had sent Odhiambo a map of the locations where a safe surrender could be organised.
"I sent him a sketch map of areas where he can report," Kankiriho said. "I told him if he cannot report in those areas where the UPDF is, he can go to any church or the UN."
Odhiambo is seeking guarantees that he and his men will not be targeted in a last-minute ambush by the Ugandan army (UPDF) and told AFP that he had not received any map.
He also said that he had informed Kony, whom he left behind in DR Congo, of his desire to surrender.
"I am very serious about defecting and I have spoken to the general about this," he said. Asked how Kony responded, Odhiambo said: "That is between me and the general."
He added that Kony is "not injured. He is still alive, still ticking."
In addition to Kony, Odhiambo and Ongwen, the ICC also issued warrants against Kony's deputy Vincent Otti and another commander Raska Lukwiya. Otti and Lukwiya have since died.
The LRA began its rebellion against the government of Uganda more than two decades ago, and is accused of committing atrocities against civilians in northern Uganda, south Sudan, DR Congo and the Central African Republic.
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