Uganda doubts LRA's Joseph Kony serious about talks

File picture of Joseph Kony from 2006 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Joseph Kony is wanted on war crimes charges

Uganda's government says it doubts rebel leader Joseph Kony is serious about peace after he purportedly sent a letter asking for forgiveness and calling for talks.

Government official Henry Okello-Oryem said a telephone conversation arranged with Mr Kony had failed to materialise.

The letter reportedly saw Mr Kony say his Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group was committed to "end this war".

It has waged an insurgency for more than 20 years.

It is notorious for abducting children to serve as sex slaves and child soldiers.

'Peace envoy'

Mr Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The LRA is accused of forcibly recruiting fighters

Several thousand African troops, backed by 100 US special forces, have been hunting him and other fighters of the LRA across the region.

The US has offered up to $5m (£3.3m) for leads resulting in his arrest.

Talks between the government and LRA collapsed in 2008 after the ICC refused to yield to Mr Kony's demand to drop the arrest warrant.

"I want to assure the people of Uganda that, we are committed to a sustainable peaceful political settlement of our long war with the government of [President Yoweri] Museveni," Mr Kony is quoted as saying in the purported letter, published in Uganda's privately owned Daily Monitor newspaper.

"We are willing and ready to forgive and seek forgiveness, and continue to seek peaceful means to end this war which has cut across a swathe of Africa for the people of the Great Lakes and the Nile-Congo Basin to find peace."

Mr Okello-Oryem, Uganda's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, told the BBC that Mission Okello, a man claiming to represent the rebel leader, was behind the latest initiative.

He had agreed to a time and date to hold a telephone conversation with Mr Kony, but it never happened, Mr Okello-Oryem said.

Mr Okello told him Mr Kony was worried that US satellites operating in the neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR) and the region would locate him, the minister said.

Mr Okello told the BBC the conversation had not taken place because of technical problems.

But Mr Okello-Oryem said he was not sure whether Mr Okello was a genuine representative of Mr Kony, and if the LRA leader was serious about peace the two of them would have already spoken.

The LRA was forced out of Uganda in 2005 and since then has wreaked havoc in CAR and other neighbouring states.

Mr Kony claims the LRA's mission is to install a government in Uganda based on the Biblical Ten Commandments.

In November, then-CAR ruler Michel Djotodia said his government was in talks with him about his surrender.

However, African diplomats cast doubts on Mr Djotodia's claim.

Mr Djotodia resigned as CAR interim president earlier this month.

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