Nigerian rebels sign truce

Rebels in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta have agreed to stop fighting government forces and hand in their weapons.

    Rebel leader Asari had earlier threatened full-scale war

    In a statement on Friday, the Nigerian president's office said an agreement to cease all hostilities had been reached.

    "The groups affirm commitment to the peace offer by the president, promise to cease all hostilities against themselves and all economic and social interests of the Nigerian state," the statement said.

    The rebels earlier this week had threatened to go to war if their demands for a bigger slice of Nigeria's oil wealth, greater autonomy for the local Ijaw people and a national debate on the country's problems were not met.

    They had warned foreigners and multinational oil companies to quit the region by 1 October.

    Claiming victory

    Mujahid Dokubo Asari, leader of the People's Volunteer Force, began talks on Wednesday with officials from President Olusegun Obasanjo's government.

    The Niger Delta accounts for
    most of Nigeria's oil output

    Asari, and Ateke Tom, leader of the rival Niger Delta Vigilante group, both signed the ceasefire deal, in which they promised "the disbandment of all militias and militant groups as well as total disarmament".

    Asari described the deal as a victory for the people.

    "It is the first time that the president and the government of Nigeria recognised that nationalities in Nigeria have the right to ask for resources control and self-determination. It is a giant step forward," he said.

    Fighting between the army and the rebels had intensified with about 500 people dying in the unrest in recent weeks.

    The clashes together with other factors sent global oil prices soaring to $50 dollar a barrel earlier this week.

    The Niger Delta accounts for the bulk of Nigeria's oil output of 2.3 million barrels per day. Nigeria is the world's seventh largest oil exporter and has earned more than $360 billion since oil was discovered in 1957.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.

    Pakistan's tribal areas: 'Neither faith nor union found'

    Pakistan's tribal areas: 'Neither faith nor union found'

    Residents of long-neglected northwestern tribal belt say incorporation into Pakistan has left them in a vacuum.