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DR Congo forces to suspend operations against the LRA

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By James Gatdet Dak

November 9, 2008 (NAIROBI) – Regular forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will cease military operations against the Ugandan rebels, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), said President Lauren Kabila.

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DR Congo President Kabila shaking hands with GoSS VP, Riek Machar, Nairobi, November 7, 2008. (Photo: J.G. Dak, ST)

LRA forces have been reportedly clashing with Congolese troops for the last two months inside DR Congo as the rebels have been allegedly destroying Congolese villages and abducting children.

President Kabila told the Government of Southern Sudan’s Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar in their meeting in Nairobi on Friday that his forces would ceasefire with the LRA on condition that Joseph Kony signs the Final Peace Agreement with the Uganda government by the end of November.

The DR Congo President who came to attend the AU Summit in Nairobi to resolve the conflict in his country expressed his support to the Uganda peace process and he called on the LRA leadership to re-assemble its forces in the designated area at Sudan’s border with his country.

Machar who also participated in the Summit held a consultative meeting with senior United Nations personnel on the Uganda peace process.

They discussed possibility of stationing some members of the Cessation of Hostilities Monitoring Team (CHMT) with UN MONOC forces based in Dungu and other areas inside DR Congo to monitor the movement and activities of the LRA.

CHMT was established in Juba to monitor the implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement signed two years ago between the Uganda government and the LRA, and it is composed of senior military officers from Kenya, South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, DR Congo, Uganda, Southern Sudan and the LRA.

The Team is led by Major General Wilson Deng of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

MONOC forces would also provide the CHMT members to be based in DR Congo with necessary logistical support.

Vice President Machar, who is the Chief Mediator of the Uganda peace talks, said he had also reached an understanding with UNMIS in Southern Sudan to reconstruct the main road from the Sudan-DR Congo border at Ri-kwangba up to Maridi town in Western Equatoria state.

The UN MONOC forces would also construct a road from the DR Congo side of the border to link the two countries by land.

He said this would also connect Sudan’s UNMIS and DR Congo’s MONOC by land and would make movement and trade between Western Equatoria state and DR Congo possible.

A Stake holders’ Consultative Conference held in Kampala this week called on the LRA leader to sign the peace agreement by November 29, 2008.

Since April 10 this year, the LRA leader Joseph Kony has refused to sign the peace deal, demanding that the Ugandan government should first approach the International Criminal Court (ICC) to defer indictment on him for alleged serious crimes he committed during his rebellion.

President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda on Thursday said his government would approach the ICC to defer the indictment after the LRA leader has signed the Final Peace Agreement.

LRA has proved to be a threat to regional security and analysis say the Government of Southern Sudan’s mediated Juba peace process is the best chance to end its 22 years rebellion.

(ST)

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