Global Policy Forum

S. Sudan President Speaks On Otti's Fate


By Frank Nyakairu, Grace Matsiko, Samuel Egadu

Daily Monitor - Kampala
November 8, 2007

The President of South Sudan, Mr Salva Kiir, yesterday told journalists at the UN headquarters in New York that he believes Vincent Otti, the rebel LRA's second most senior commander who is rumoured dead, may be simply ill. Gen. Kiir, who began his trip to the US with a stop UN stop on Tuesday, told a journalist from the Inner City Press (a US news agency) - who asked him whether he knew if Vincent Otti is alive, that; "There are reports that Otti is dead; some of these reports say that Joseph Kony killed him. These are rumours; someone can be sick and then become restored."

Mr Kiir also met Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, according to a UN report and later told journalists that he has just built bridges between Eritrea and the National Congress Party of Omar al-Bashir. He said he aims to do the same between El-Bashir and George Bush. Talking about the South Sudan-mediated talks between the LRA and Kampala, Mr Kiir said there is almost peace in Uganda, that an LRA delegation is in Kampala, and that if a peace agreement is signed, "the local community" will ask the ICC to drop the indictments (against the LRA leadership).

Speaking on condition of anonymity, an official of the South Sudan Government told the French News Agency that; "As of now, (Vincent) Otti is missing...we do not know whether he is dead or alive." He said Otti went missing after a dispute within the group over stuttering peace talks with Kampala. The South Sudan government officials largely maintain regular contact with the LRA leaders who are hiding in the jungles of northeastern DR Congo and South Sudan.

In northern Uganda, however, people retired to their homes yesterday a disappointed lot after Kony reneged on an earlier promise to call in at a local FM radio there largely to shed more light on Otti's whereabouts. For hours on end, people were glued to their handsets in the hope of hearing from Kony. According to Martin Ojul, the LRA lead peace negotiator, Kony was supposed to call Mega FM in Gulu at 11am, but by 6pm he hadn't. Residents of Gulu and Amuru, Otti's home districts waited anxiously. The crowds, which had gathered at major spots in town, dispersed in despair. "If Kony has failed to call into the show that means he is trying to hide something from us, this is evident that Otti is dead," said Mr Alex Kilama, a resident of Opit near Gulu town as he walked away in anger. Several announcements were aired over Mega FM saying Kony was going to phone in to explain Otti's fate and the LRA position on the peace talks. Martin Ojul, who is currently on a consultative tour of the war affected districts, had promised the local population here that Kony would certainly call. At Koch Goma in Amuru District, Ojul was put to task to explain why Kony had reneged on his promise. "Tell us what happened" the bitter residents of Koch Goma asked Ojul but said; "I have been trying to reach him (Kony) again but in Garamba (DRC) where he is, there is too much rain, I will try again." "Otti is alive. He is recovering from cholera that had put him down. What is being said about Vincent is hostile propaganda. This is politics that involves two parties," he said. Each passing day, the fate of Otti, the architect of the LRA insurgency, seems to be overshadowing other issues during the consultations.

The northern Uganda Regional Army Spokesperson, Lt. Chris Magezi, said, "Our evidence that Otti could be dead is circumstantial but we don't have concrete evidence. Otti has always had a huge contact base but he has gone silent. His satellite telephones have been given to other people". "It is not strange for Kony to execute his commanders," the army spokesperson said. He said in 1994, Kony executed Otti Lagony, his army commander and in 2003, he killed James Opoka, a former aide to Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye.

More Information on International Justice
More Information on ICC Investigations in Uganda
More Information on Joseph Kony
More Information on ICC Investigations
More Information on Uganda


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