Uganda: reasons for a bumpy start

05 December 2005 by HEIKELINA VERRIJN STUART

While in New York on 6 October, William Swing, head of the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), announced at a press conference that arrest warrants had been issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against five leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group in Northern Uganda. A week before, the American diplomat had already told the Security Council about the arrest warrants in closed session. His notes were leaked to a Reuters reporter, who was first to spread the news. After months of preparing the first round of arrest warrants, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo had to watch silently while others spoke out and vented opinions about still sealed documents. In terms of a communication strategy, it was a remarkable fiasco.

On 7 October, the Prosecutor hastily summoned a press conference, only to cancel it a few hours later. Finally, it was the Ugandan government who officially confirmed that day the existence of the arrest warrants transmitted on 27 September to Uganda, Sudan and the DRC. Because the warrants were kept sealed for yet another week, Moreno Ocampo was prohibited from commenting.

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