Uganda prepares to sign final agreement to end 20-year war

March 22nd, 2008 - 9:47 pm ICT by admin  

Kampala, March 22 (DPA) Uganda will resume talks with the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) guerrillas Monday to fine-tune the draft peace treaty, officials said Saturday and emphasised that the deadline was March 28. Speaking to reporters in Juba, southern Sudan, the venue of the talks, government leader Ruhakana Rugunda said the purpose of the talks was to prepare the treaty, to agree on the implementation schedule and to agree on the dates to sign.

The talks began in mid 2006 under the mediation of the southern Sudanese government. The war has left thousands of people dead, mutilated and abducted by the LRA who forced them to fight and turn the abducted girls into sex slaves. More than 1.5 million people have been displaced by the conflict.

The signing of the final peace deal has been delayed with the rebels demanding that the International Criminal Court (ICC) withdraws arrest warrants issued in 2005 for five top LRA commanders including its leader Joseph Kony on charges of conscripting children into war and raping and killing civilians.

The Ugandan government, which requested the indictments at The Hague-based court, offered an amnesty to the LRA leaders in June 2006 provided they gave up their fight and started talks with them shortly afterwards.

The Ugandan government insists that the peace agreement be signed before March 28 and has said it will ask the ICC to rescind the indictments of LRA leaders once they agree to sign the final deal.

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