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Monday, 2 April 2012

Otunnu links Lubanga crimes to Museveni

Otunnu links Lubanga crimes to Museveni

By Ismail Musa Ladu

Posted Sunday, April 1 2012 at 15:47

Uganda Peoples Congress party president Olara Otunnu wants President Museveni tried for recruiting child soldiers between 1980 and 1986, saying both convicted warlord, Thomas Lubanga, and the president are birds of the same feather.

According to the former UN Under-Secretary General and Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, President Museveni is a typical candidate for the ICC given his role in co-opting child soldiers into his guerilla outfit that toppled the military government of the late Tito Okello Lutwa in 1986.

In an interview with Uganda Correspondent Newspaper, a UK-based paper, the UPC party chief was quoted as saying that the Uganda’s president should not be treated any different from Mr Lubanga because the warlord did not only commit similar atrocities but was also sponsored by President Museveni.

“Mr Lubanga was a relatively small player in the DR Congo. What gave Lubanga his power and sway in the Congo was actually sponsorship by Ugandan leaders,” Mr Otunnu said while on a working visit to the United Kingdom.

“The little fellow [Lubanga] who was manipulated from Uganda has been charged, but the real fellows who were in charge of his crimes are walking scot-free. That is what is wrong with the application of the Rome Statue.”

He said in the interview that he told ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo that the ICC’s process and choice of those to be indicted has not only been politicised but highly selective too.

“I still very much hope that what was done inside Uganda and elsewhere in Congo will be punished. I hope to see a day of reckoning when the ICC will investigate and bring them to book for what they did,” Mr Otunnu said before adding that, “Thomas Lubanga was not a hugely significant player in the overall scheme of things.”

The government spokesperson, Mary Karooro Okurut dismissed the UPC party boss claims saying they shouldn’t be taken seriously because there is nothing new about it.

“That is what he has been saying since he returned,” said Okurut.

The particular provision in the Rome Statute under which Thomas Lubanga was convicted was drafted by Mr Otunnu himself.

The UPC leader also faulted western countries for turning a blind eye to atrocities committed against Ugandans while they react to similar atrocities in other countries like Cote-d’Ivoire and Mali where he said fewer civilians are massacred on streets.