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Recent Move By N. Ugandan Rebel Group Welcomed

Secretary-General welcomes recent move by northern Ugandan rebel group

The recent official visit of a Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) delegation to the Ugandan capital could help spur an end to the rebel group's long-running conflict with Government forces in the north of the African country, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.

In a statement released by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban said he hoped that the visit to Kampala, which has led to consultations between the LRA and the Government, "will create momentum towards a comprehensive settlement to this conflict, which has brought great suffering to the people of northern Uganda."

He called on regional and international players that have been assisting the peace process "to continue their crucial support until an acceptable solution is found."

Mr. Ban's Special Envoy on the issue, former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano, will continue to cooperate with the mediation process led by the Government of Southern Sudan that is trying to facilitate discussions between all the parties.

The LRA signed a ceasefire with the Government last year, but Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa told the General Assembly's annual high-level debate last month that the rebels were failing to meet any of their commitments under the deal. Many LRA fighters have been camped in Garamba National Park in the far northeast of the DRC, rather than assembling in Ri-Kwangba, southern Sudan, as previously agreed.

Since the civil war began in the mid-1980s, the LRA has become notorious for abducting as many as 25,000 children and using them as fighters and porters. The children were often subject to extreme violence shortly after abduction, with many girls allocated to officers in a form of institutional rape.

In October 2005 the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its first-ever arrest warrants against five senior members of the LRA: the leader Joseph Kony, and commanders Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo, Dominic Ongwen and Raska Lukwiya.


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