Ugandan groups inch closer to deal

Erratic Ugandan peace talks gather momentum with latest signing on key points.

    Kony, left, is wanted for war crimes [EPA]

    After the signing of a pact to implement "comprehensive solutions" to end the conflict, Joaquim Chissano, working as a UN envoy at the talks, said: "I regard this document as the biggest pillar for the irreversibility of peace in Uganda."
    A final deal could come next week in a process that started in the summer of 2006 with a ceasefire in the fighting that had started in 1986.
    Fine details
    The government delegation's spokesman said the last two stages of the five-point process - to set up a permanent ceasefire and demobilise the rebels - could be completed in days.
    "These two stages are very technical and we might spend two or three days negotiating over them, and sign the final peace agreement in this coming week," Captain Chris Magezi said.
    Tens of thousands of people have died in the fighting in north Uganda, and more than 1.8 million others have been displaced.
    David Nyekorach-Matsanga, the chief negotiator for the LRA, said the rebels could now promise peace.
    "The LRA is very happy with the progress in the peace talks," he said.
    "We can now promise Ugandans and the international community that peace will return soon."
    The LRA, lead by Joseph Kony, was known for rape, mutilating its enemies and for recruiting child soldiers.
    The LRA says it is fighting for the rights of the Acholi people against Yoweri Museveni, the president who is from the south of the country.
    Kony and two of his commanders are charged with atrocities by the International Criminal Court, but in a trial deal agreed earlier in the week they are likely to be tried in Uganda and not at The Hague.
    Crucially for the LRA, Friday's agreement included a commitment by the government to make public appointments with "commensurate representation of the people from the conflict-affected areas".
    Museveni's administration also committed itself to "assess the experience and rank of former LRA combatants" to integrate into the military any former fighters "who are willing to join".

    SOURCE: Agencies


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