The government of Uganda says it will consult with regional leaders on the fate of Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebel leader Joseph Kony, who, despite repeated assurances refused again over the weekend to sign the final peace agreement.
Ugandan Defense minister Ruth Nankabirwa reportedly said a summit of regional presidents, convened by the chief mediator and South Sudan Vice President Dr. Riek Machar would advise on the talks.
A delegation of religious and traditional leaders from Uganda's conflict-affected northern region who met with Kony over the weekend has also reportedly expressed disappointment in the rebel leader.
Kony has in the past used durations of talks to re-arm, train, and mobilize in preparation for more fighting. LRA chief peace negotiator David Matsanga told VOA he and the LRA leader have not been deceiving Ugandans and the international community.
"General Joseph Kony told us that we should go there (Ri-Kwamgba) as his negotiators, and we which did meet him, sit down with him, which we did. This time it was not through proxy. It was face-to-face and a physical meeting. I was accompanied by many, many elders from northern Uganda and other religious leaders, and General Joseph Kony plainly came out and told us the reasons as to why he was not signing. The most important thing is the indictments. So they want the indictments from the ICC to be removed before they can sign," he said.
Reports from northern Uganda said the religious and traditional leaders who went to Ri-Kwamgba hoping to witness the signing of the final agreement were disappointed in the rebel leader.
But Matasanga said the disappointment was not the making of rebel leader Joseph Kony.
"Not only elders from northern Uganda, very many people are not comfortable that this (the agreement) has not taken place. All the elders who where there, we all pleaded with General Joseph Kony to sign this agreement, but General Joseph Kony said he can only sign the agreement once the indictments are removed. And we could not argue with him any more than that. We spent there two days with General Joseph Kony and we discussed a number of things. He has told us his difficulties, and we have put these difficulties to Dr. Rick Michar the South Sudan Vice President who is the chief mediator," Matsanga said.
Matsanga again denied that he, as chief LRA peace negotiator, was partly to blame for what some have called Kony's repeated misleading promises to sign the final peace agreement.
"I think that is a very wrong question to be asked because I have not misled anybody and I have not told anybody any thing contrary to that. Kony has appeared himself, he has told us what is the problem. So there is no question of misleading here. We went, we met Kony, we sat down, and we talked and talked and talked. Kony understands the agreement; he has read it from page to page two only that he doesn't want to sign it because of the indictments," Matsanga said.
On the threat of military action against the LRA leader if he did not sign the final deal, Matasanga said he knew nothing about a military threat against Kony.
"I am not a military operator; I don't prefer military action and I don't have any privy to any military plans that the government of Uganda or the government of Congo may be planning. I am a chief negotiator; I negotiated an agreement; it is a good agreement but General Kony has said he cannot sign it because of the indictments. Whether they want to take military option, it is their problem," Matsanga said.