Uganda, rebels likely to sign deal on April 5

Uganda and the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army are expected to sign a final peace deal to end one of Africa’s longest conflicts on April 5, about a week later than a Kampala deadline, officials said on Wednesday.

Progress has slowed because of the rebels’ demand that the International Criminal Court (ICC) drop war crimes indictments against their leader Joseph Kony and two deputies.

Both sides signed documents outlining the final agreement and implementation timetable late on Tuesday in Sudan’s southern town of Juba where talks have been held.

“We have completed all the negotiations successfully. We have moved from enemies to be brothers and sisters again,” said Ugandan Interior Minister Ruhakana Rugunda.

But the chief negotiator for the Lord’s Resistance Army delegation, David Nyekorach Matsanga, told reporters the rebels would not begin to implement the deal until the ICC lifted an international arrest warrant for Kony and his deputies.

“We cannot assemble or disarm when the ICC warrants are still on our heads,” said Matsanga.

He said Kony would sign the deal, but not in Juba because of the threat of arrest.

Tens of thousands have been killed in the two-decade-old rebellion, which has also displaced nearly two million people in the coffee-exporting East African country. - Reuters

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