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Ugandan Army Opposes Extending Cease-Fire


Uganda's army says it does not support extending a month-long cease-fire with northern rebels following the expiration of the truce Wednesday.

Ugandan army spokesman Major Shaban Bantariza told VOA he thinks a limited cease-fire that the government granted to members of the Lord's Resistance Army last month did more harm than good.

For a month, the government had set aside a safe haven corridor near the Sudan border to allow the rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army to prepare for possible negotiations with the government.

At that time, the rebels had indicated they wanted to talk peace with the government, but were afraid they might be captured while traveling to meet their commanders.

Major Bantariza says that, instead of preparing for peace talks, the rebels used the time to prepare for war.

"Just yesterday, a deserter from L.R.A. led us to a cache and we unearthed ourselves 226 tins of bullets - that is enough bullets to arm 5650 fighters," he said. "By extending the cease-fire, you are simply giving them enough time to build up an armory."

In an earlier interview with VOA, Major Bantariza said the army now believes rebel leader Joseph Kony was never interested in holding peace talks.

The 18-year insurgency by the Lord's Resistance Army has been marked by brutality seldom seen anywhere else in Africa. The United Nations calls it a humanitarian disaster.

According to U.N. figures, the group has kidnapped more than 20,000 children, who are often forced to kill their families, neighbors, and others. Girls are used as sex slaves by rebel commanders.

The rebels attack randomly, often killing their victims or severely maiming them. Most of northern Uganda's people are living in fear in camps guarded by the army.

The aims of the rebellion and its elusive leader are unclear.