Uganda?s government and the rebel Lord?s Resistance Army (LRA) signed their first-ever truce accord over the weekend, boosting hopes for peace talks aimed at ending the brutal war in northern Uganda, which has lasted almost two decades. The peace accord, which begins tomorrow (Tuesday), will require rebel fighters to gather at two camps supervised by the regional government of southern Sudan, which is mediating the talks. The LRA has been given up to three weeks to assemble in southern Sudan. The talks resume on Thursday. The primary condition for a cessation of hostilities was the requirement to have all LRA fighters assemble at designated points in southern Sudan.
Chief mediator Riek Machar, the regional vice president of southern Sudan, urged the parties to implement the provisions of the truce fully as soon as it becomes operative, at 6:00 am (0300 GMT) on August 29. The accord comes after more than a month of off-again, on-again negotiations marked by mutual antagonism, harsh rhetoric, violence and rebel demands for major concessions that Kampala has rejected.
Uganda?s information minister, Kirunda Kivajinja, spoke with English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey about the latest truce with the LRA.
?We?ve agreed that by Tuesday, 6 a.m., the LRA should be assembled in two places in southern Sudan. And our team has already left Juba, came here in Kampala briefing us, and then shortly they should be going back tomorrow for the final modalities of the implementations.?
He explains what the peace deal entails.? It means hostilities have ceased. And we have now between today and Tuesday 6:00 for the LRA to assemble in designated positions for their own safety?in southern Sudan?.?
Asked how much confidence his government has in the LRA to adhere to this peace deal, Kivajinja said, ? ?The mediator is a serious person and he is a physical individual not for himself like the International Court of Justice, which is very tough, with powers with no real claws to scratch on the ground.?
Kivajinja continues, ?...Our delegation is going back with a concrete program approved by us; then they first of all see how many they are, how the whole process, the releasing of the women and children, in other words we are now going to the real modalities of effecting the ceasefire.?
Let us know what you think of this report and other stories on our website. Send your views to AFRICA@VOANEWS.COM, and include your phone number. Or, call us here in Washington, DC at (202) 205-9942. After you hear the VOA identification, press 30 to leave a message. We want to hear what you have to say!