In Uganda, a new, limited ceasefire took effect Friday in the north. The 18-day ceasefire is being offered to members of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army who wish to surrender and take advantage of an amnesty offer.
Major Shaban Bantariza is the spokesman for the Ugandan army. From Kampala, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the extent of the new ceasefire.
Major Bantariza says, “Well, basically, this covers a very small area because this ceasefire is not like the other previous one. This one is a means to facilitate those groups of LRA who would like to come out of the bush.”
He says the ceasefire took effect at 7am local time, and that by 9am, an LRA colonel had surrendered.
Major Bantariza says this ceasefire differs from the recent one in another way. “This one has been asked (for) by the groups of the LRA who would like to get out of the bush because they had hoped that their leader, Joseph Koney, would take advantage of the peace talks and the ceasefire area, which was very large, 300 square kilometers. Joseph Koney and his other hardcore criminal leaders refused. But there are others who think they should not continue to die for nothing. And they asked the president, through the mediator, Betty Bigombe, to give them some area, a kind of safe corridor…and that’s why the president gave that area, which is also in northern Uganda.”
He denies the ceasefire is a trap and says any rebels who have surrendered have been treated well and offered amnesty. He says the 18-day period is more than enough time for any rebel to come out of the bush and surrender.