The Archbishop of Gulu archdiocese who also doubles as the Chairperson of Episcopal Conference Uganda John Baptist Odama has called upon the government of Uganda to consider Maj Gen Caesar Acellam, the recently “captured” Lord’s Resistance Army commander; as someone who can also benefit from Amnesty just like those who have benefitted before him, more so since the Juba peace talks.
The Bishop was speaking as a representative of the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) in a joint press conference with Ker Kal Kwaro Acholi, from the Bishops palace in Gulu last week.
Odama said that as religious leaders they condemn the decision of the Minister of Internal Affairs of Uganda who declared on the 23rd May 2012, that there will be a lapse in the operation of part II of the Amnesty Act that provides for protection of those who renounce rebellion.
He said that there were ill motives behind the declaration and bringing the war to an end wasn’t an interest, because those still in captivity will fear returning home.
Odama added that it also makes those urging the LRA to abandon rebellion suspect in their eyes, as they would think that it is a ploy to lure them to be prosecuted since the current Amnesty Act does not provide amnesty certificates.
He discredited the statement made by the Principle State Attorney Ms Joan Kagezi in Gulu recently that many children from captivity can still return home even though the current law does not provide amnesty certificate anymore. Kagezi said that the DPP is only interested in prosecuting 10 rebel commanders, Acellam being among them.
But Odama says that, if that was the case then there was no need to alter the amnesty provision because a person like Col Thomas Kwoyelo was still tried even though the provisions were in place. He said that: “law is a law and without that law there is a risk, even though they are not going to be tried in the court of law because they were not commanders, it sends a strong message that they are not protected yet amnesty was meant to end all armed rebellion against the government.”
He added that the government needs to engage parliament and all stakeholders in dialogue in order to improve the implementation of the entire amnesty act, thereby fulfilling the goals of attaining peace with genuine reconciliation.
“We religious leaders and cultural leaders do not have an army to fight those who want military option but we want peace all over the country and people must know that even Kony deserves Amnesty if he denounces rebellion. I thought that was the major reason for Juba peace talks even God the only mighty is a forgiver of sinners what if he for gives Kony who are we to condemn,” Odama concluded.
The Prime Minister for Acholi Chiefdom Mr Kenneth Oketayot said that the government needs to consider reinstating the amnesty provision since it had yielded fruits and given returnees the guarantee of their security once they left the bush. He said that during their consultations with the communities, parents who gripped with fear are also appealing that the government reinstate the amnesty provision.
Sister Mary Oker who is Gulu’s resident Commissioner for Amnesty said that according to them, amnesty is meant for everyone and cannot explain why other former rebel commanders including Acellam are being singled out.
“We have issued Amnesty certificates to Brigadier Sam Kolo, Brigadier Banya who was a pilot a senior commander in the bush; what is wrong with Acellam being entitled to amnesty?” Sister Mary Oker asked while reacting to questions from journalists as to why other senior commanders are pardoned while others are not.
By A Web design Company
By A Web design Company