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Pax Christi helps negotiate Ugandan ceasefire


In a major breakthrough for Uganda, a cessation of hostilities was agreed on Saturday between the Government and rebel Lord's Resistance Army following peace talks assisted by the Catholic peace movement Pax Christi.

"This is the first major breakthrough in the peace talks that started on 14 July in Juba, the capital of South Sudan," a Pax Christi statement says.

The Ugandan Government had resisted a cessation of hostilities for fear that the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) might use it to regroup.

Direct talks in Kampala last week between the President of Southern Sudan Salva Kiir and President Museveni helped to bring about the breakthrough for one of Africa's longest-running conflicts.

"The LRA has agreed to surface and to assemble its troops in Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) protected assembly areas inside South Sudan within 14 days. The Ugandan Army will provide safe passage to LRA groups and individuals moving towards the assembly points."

Peace talks will continue today and if the LRA assembles in South Sudan as agreed, the peace process will become irreversible, Pax Christi says.

"This is a point of no return. It is now a matter of working out the technical details," says Simon Simonse of Pax Christi who has been working on the peace process for over eight years.

"There remain, however, tough issues to deal with: an agreement on the procedures of accountability in ways that will be approved by the International Criminal Court while respecting the Amnesty to the LRA leaders accorded by President Museveni," he said.

Pax Christi, which has advocated a negotiated solution since 1998, was requested in the fall of 2005 by Church leaders in Northern Uganda and Southern Sudan to explore possibilities for a political solution to the civil war between LRA and the Government of Uganda.

The present peace talks started in Juba on 14 July. Pax Christi heads the resource group that provides advice to the chief mediator of the peace process.

The conflict in Northern Uganda is one of Africa's greatest human-made humanitarian disasters.

According to recent estimates 129 human lives are lost daily which is three times the figure given for Darfur in October 2005 and for Iraq after the invasion of 2003.

Map source: Avert.org


SOURCE
Breakthrough in Peace Talks in Northern Uganda (Media Release, Pax Christi, 27/8/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
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28 Aug 2006