Uganda Foes Cease Hostilities

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(LRA commander Joseph Kony—after 20 years are two sides finally headed for peace deal?)

The government of Uganda and the rebel Lords Resistance Army (LRA) have today signed an agreement calling for cessation of hostilities between the two parties.

This landmark development is intended to pave the way and advance the peace negotiation in Juba, capital of Southern Sudan aimed at ending the 20-year rebel insurgency in the north of the country. The instruments halting hostilities was executed at the Raha Hotel in Juba.

"We had an immense success, both parties signed an agreement for cessation of hostilities and we expect therefore that implementation will begin by August 29," said the Uganda government delegation spokesman Capt. Paddy Ankunda on phone from Juba. 

He added, "It means that both UPDF and the LRA will not shoot at each other neither will the LRA shoot or make any attacks on civilians and that there will be no hostile propaganda from both parties and that the cessation of hostilities monitoring team will start its work, monitoring violation and then the LRA will have to assemble in gazetted places and then we move forward." The UPDF is the government’s Uganda Peoples Defense Forces.

He also said the talks would take a break immediately so that both parties brief their principles before resuming on August 31. Earlier, state minister for defense Ruth Nankabirwa said a ceasefire could be in place in a matter of weeks if both sides agree. "We are so optimistic that it's going to work out," said Nankabirwa. "We are ready to make sure that we take this action to receive our brothers and sisters who will agree to assemble." The government had previously refused to agree on a cessation of hostilities before signing a comprehensive peace agreement, citing abuse of previous ceasefires by the rebels.

The Lord's Resistance Army had already made a unilateral ceasefire declaration. Several of its fighters have been killed in recent weeks by Ugandan forces. Talks between the two foes began in Juba in July, but disagreements over whether to declare a cease-fire first and then negotiate a comprehensive agreement have led to delays and temporary walkouts by both sides.

Ssebaggala reports from Uganda.

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