25 February 2008 The Ugandan Government and the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) have taken another major step forward in their peace process by signing a permanent ceasefire accord at the weekend, the United Nations envoy to the process reported today.
The ceasefire deal, which will take effect after the signing of a final overall peace agreement, is fundamental for building peace in Uganda, said Mr. Chissano, who signed the accord in Juba, Southern Sudan, on Saturday on behalf of the UN.
It is the latest in a series of accords reached over the past week as the two sides continue their talks in a bid to reach an overall accord ending the long-running conflict. Those talks are likely to resume later this week.
But the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the LRA-Affected Areas also warned that an absence of war should not be seen as the ultimate goal and he urged Ugandans to work tirelessly to ensure that peace becomes irreversible in the African country.
Saturday’s agreement provides for the encampment of all LRA forces within the Ri-Kwang-Ba assembly area in Southern Sudan and envisions the setting up of a ceasefire monitoring team comprised of senior officers from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), representatives of the two sides, delegates from African Union countries acting as observers to the talks, and a UN liaison team.
Ugandan Government forces have been fighting the LRA in the north of the country since the mid-1980s and during the conflict the rebel group has become notorious for its human rights abuses.
In an agreement reached last week at Juba, the two sides agreed that a special division of the High Court of Uganda would be established to try individuals alleged to have committed serious crimes during the conflict. They also agreed to set up programmes to provide reparations for war victims, a truth commission-style body that will explore the past, and other measures to promote national reconciliation.
UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters today that the two sides have reached consensus on a draft text on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, but the LRA delegation to the Juba talks intends to consult its leadership before the talks resume.
She said that would leave only a few more steps before the signing of a final peace agreement to formally end the conflict.
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