Uganda Leaders, Rebels Agree to a Cease-Fire and Peace Talks

Associated Press

Uganda's new military government and the main insurgency group, the National Resistance Army, said Saturday they would begin peace talks Monday in Nairobi.

Both sides also said they agreed to a formal cease-fire. An informal cease-fire had existed since Uganda's July 27 coup, but the uneasy peace was broken Friday when the rebels began a drive toward Kampala, Uganda's capital.

It was the second time the two sides have agreed to meet since a military coup toppled the civilian government of Milton Obote.

Talks were set for Aug. 13 in Tanzania's capital of Dar es Salaam. But Yoweri Museveni, a former Ugandan defense minister and leader of the guerrillas and their political wing, the National Resistance Movement, did not show up. Lt. Gen Tito Okello, Uganda's new head of state, did go.

Museveni welcomed Obote's ouster but has demanded half the seats on the ruling Military Council as a condition for cooperating with the new government.

The National Resistance Army announced the peace talks Saturday in a written statement distributed to journalists in Nairobi, Kenya's capital.

Olara Otunnu, Uganda's new foreign minister, made the government announcement about seven hours later during a news conference in Kampala. He said Kenya would be host for the talks, but did not say what role it would play. Kenya made no announcement.

The National Resistance Army had been fighting the Obote government for four years before the coup and is the largest and best-organized of several insurgency groups in Uganda.

The Resistance Army said Friday it disarmed army units in four towns--Kiboga, Busunju, Luwero and Matugga--all within 50 miles of the capital and conducted actions near Fort Portal and Kasese in western Uganda.

Otunnu said the government let the guerrillas know they must immediately cease all hostile acts, resume the cease-fire and clear their men from roads leading to Kampala. He said the Resistance Army complied.

Uganda's defense minister, Col. G. Wilson Toko, told a news conference Friday that three smaller rebel groups have promised to cooperate with the government.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World