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Ugandan Rebel Group Declares Unilateral Cease-Fire


The Lord's Resistance Army rebel group has declared a unilateral cease-fire with the Ugandan government, as both sides prepare to resume peace talks next week.

Rebel deputy leader Vincent Otti Friday announced the immediate cease-fire, saying rebel chief Joseph Kony ordered it.

Government officials are saying they will only sign a ceasefire as part of a final peace deal.

The chief of Uganda's delegation, Internal Affairs Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, Friday said the government remains committed to the peace process, despite the refusal of rebel leaders to attend.

Otti Thursday turned down the government's request to attend, saying he fears he would be arrested if he appears at the talks.

The International Criminal Court has charged Otti and four other rebel leaders with war crimes for the killing, kidnapping and mutilation of thousands of civilians during a 20-year war.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has offered amnesty to Kony and his top aides if the Lord's Resistance Army disarms.

Human Rights Watch has criticized the amnesty offer, saying rebels should not be exempt from punishment.

Rebel chief Kony and his aides have been hiding at bases in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.