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Angola's Warring Factions Sign Cease-Fire - 2002-04-01

Angola's government and the UNITA rebel group have signed a preliminary cease-fire agreement Saturday after years of fighting.

The signing took place in the southeastern town of Luena, where the warring sides have been holding talks for two weeks. Delegations from the United Nations, the United States, Russia and Portugal also attended the ceremony. The two sides are scheduled to sign a formal cease-fire during a ceremony on April fourth in the capital, Luanda.

The ceasefire comes more than a month after the death of longtime UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi, who was killed in a clash with government forces in Angola's eastern Moxico province. UNITA's new leader, Paulo Lukamba Gato, had endorsed the cease-fire talks.

UNITA has fought the government for most of the time since Angola's independence from Portugal in 1975. The last of two failed peace agreements collapsed in 1998, setting off a full-scale resumption of hostilities. The war has claimed at least 500,000 lives.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP.