Ugandan rebels agree to a ceasefire

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Saturday, August 5, 2006

Ugandan districts affected by the Lord's Resistance Army

The leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, the rebel group in Uganda, has agreed to a unilateral ceasefire to end 18 years of fighting.

Lieutenant General Otti spoke on behalf of the LRA leader Joseph Kony on Friday, declaring an end to hostilities, ahead of peace talks due to begin next week.

Speaking to the BBC, Otti said: "I, Lt Gen Vincent Otti, second in command of the LRA, by the order of Gen Joseph Kony, chairman of the LRA High Command, do hereby declare a unilateral cessation of hostilities.”

The Ugandan government has said it will wait to see if violence does actually stop before accepting the ceasefire.

It is a significant step in relations between the government and the rebels who have been fighting a twenty year campaign. However, it is unlikely Kony or Otti will attend the talks with the Ugandan government in Sudan, as they are both wanted for war crimes.

During its campaign the LRA has been accused of multiple atrocities, including the deaths of thousands of people in the north of the country and the kidnap of up to 20,000 children for use as soldiers.

The group, with a cult-like status, was formed by Joseph Kony in 1987 against the forces of the current leader Yoweri Museveni, who had taken power the previous year.