(dpa) - The leader of Uganda's notorious Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has set April 10 as the new date to sign a peace treaty that would bring an end to a two-decade-long civil conflict in the north, government officials said Tuesday.
The Ugandan government and the LRA have been involved in the peace negotiations since mid-2006 under the mediation of southern Sudan's leaders and the two sides were to sign a final deal this week to end the 22-year rebellion.
LRA leader Joseph Kony's spokesman, David Matsanga, said he is still walking through the Congo jungles towards the remote village of Ri-Kwangba where he would sign the peace treaty and requested more time, said the government peace team spokesman, Chris Magezi.
"Matsanga has called our delegation today to inform us that Kony is still walking to Ri-Kwangba and so he would not be around on the agreed-on date of April 3. He has said that he will sign the agreement in Ri-Kwangba on April 10," Magezi said.
According to Magezi, the Ugandan government expects to sign the final agreement after April 10 and the exact date will be determined after consulting with the Sudanese mediators.
The LRA war displaced nearly 2 million people in Uganda's north and thousands have been killed or maimed while up to 25,000 children have been abducted by the rebels for forced conscription.
The signing of the final agreement has been hampered with delays, mostly over the rebel's demand that the International Criminal Court (ICC) withdraw the war crimes indictments it slapped on five LRA leaders including Kony in 2005.
The rebels' negotiators were given a boost in February when an agreement was signed under which the suspects would be tried by Ugandan courts once a final peace treaty had been signed.