April 17th, 2007 06:30 EST
Uganda: Cessation of Hostilities Extension, Planned Talks
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the extension of a cessation of hostilities between the Ugandan Government and the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and voiced hope that resumed talks will lead to a comprehensive settlement to the conflict which has caused thousands of deaths and forced 1.5 million people to flee since it began some two decades ago.
The Government and the LRA reached an agreement this weekend extending their Cessation of Hostilities until the end of June, and planning to resume peace talks in Juba on 26 April under the mediation of the Vice-President of the Government of Southern Sudan.
“The Secretary-General commends the parties for their expressed commitment to the peace process,” a spokesperson for Mr. Ban said in a statement.
“He hopes that the negotiations in Juba will create momentum towards a comprehensive settlement to this conflict, which has brought immense suffering to the people of Northern Uganda.”
Since the LRA rebellion began in 1986, the rebel group has become notorious for abducting children and then using them as soldiers or porters, while subjecting some to torture and allocating many girls to senior officers in a form of institutional rape.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) in October, 2005 issued its first-ever arrest warrants against Joseph Kony, the LRA leader, and four of the group’s commanders – Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo, Dominic Ongwen and Raska Lukwiya – on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In the statement today, the spokesman expressed Mr. Ban’s gratitude to all the international and regional players who have been assisting the peace process, particularly his Special Envoy, former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, and called for their continued support.