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Angolan Combatants Agree to End Hostilities - 2002-03-16


In a sign of progress toward ending 27 years of civil war in Angola, the army and rebels with the UNITA insurgent group have agreed to end hostilities throughout the country.

Army officials and leaders of the UNITA group issued a joint communique late Friday, announcing they had reached an agreement to cease all hostilities throughout the country.

Both sides met for four hours Friday in Angola's eastern Moxico province.

They agreed to create conditions that will allow for the implementation of a 1994 peace agreement that was to have ended the war. Angolan government officials say disarmament and the issue of a possible amnesty for rebels were discussed at the meeting.

The agreement between the army and rebels was reached after the Angolan government on Thursday ordered the army to stop its offensive against UNITA rebels.

The latest developments come three weeks after UNITA founder and leader Jonas Savimbi was shot to death in a battle with government forces. The Angolan government had considered Mr. Savimbi an obstacle to peace efforts in the country.

Angola has been in a state of civil war since it gained its independence from Portugal in 1975. The conflict has killed hundreds of thousands of people. Hundreds of thousands more have been displaced.

Fighting has persisted despite the signing of a 1994 peace agreement between the government and rebels. The agreement provided for amnesty, and for the rebels to be integrated into the government and the armed forces.

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