Rebels in Uganda Declare a Unilateral Cease-Fire

GULU, Uganda, MARCH 31, 2003 ( Lord’s Resistance Army rebels in a letter declared a unilateral and immediate cease-fire and they called for talks with the government to end 16 years of armed conflict.

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The rebels sent the letter to the Acholi Religious Leaders’ Peace Initiative (ARLPI), a cartel of religious and traditional leaders in the Acholi districts of the north.

ARLPI’s secretary told the Misna missionary agency last weekend that the letter marked the first time that rebels’ peace proposals were put in writing.

The letter asks the government to declare a similar truce and consent to a prior meeting between rebel and government delegations, as well as meetings between LRA members and local religious leaders.

The letter, handed Friday to Joseph Ojuak, the principal Acholi traditional leader, was passed on the next day to Gulu Archbishop John Baptiste Odama, ARLPI chairman.

The archbishop in turn gave it to General Salim Saleh, spokesman of the government’s Peace Commission. «I receive this letter with great satisfaction, and the Ugandan government will respond promptly,» Saleh said.

ARLPI secretary Father Carlos Rodriguez Soto told Misna: «The situation is so desperate that any little opening is welcome. For too long, the people of North Uganda have lived an absurd violence.»

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