By Isaac Vuni
February 23, 2008 (JUBA)° — The Government of Uganda and Lord’s Resistance Army and Movement (LRA/M) rebels have, today at 2.30 pm, signed a Permanent Ceasefire Agreement in Juba the capital of southern Sudan to silent guns.
- Ruhakana Rugunda head of Uganda government delegation exchanges greeting with LRA team leader David Masang after the signed the cession of hostility agreement in Juba, with GoSS Vice-President, Wed January 30, 2008 (I Vuni)
The a permanent ceasefire commencing 24 hours after the signature of the final peace agreement expected to be concluded by 29th February this month.
In his keynote address, the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary General for LRA affected areas, former Mozambique President Joaquim Alberto Chissano, hailed the parties for their positive decision for signing a permanent ceasefire that marks the end of hostilities between the two parties. However, he says people are looking for peace which is much more vital than merely laying down of arms and emphasized that absence of war would be a good momentum to be use for peace building and development of the war torn northern Uganda.
The UN special envoy adviced the parties not be over wealth with Joyce but rather to work very hard towards strengthening the peace and reconciliation they have underscored today for develop of their country the Uganda.
Meanwhile the government of Uganda team leader, Ruhakana Rugunda said the signing was a milestone achievement that has been reached and that it sends a clear signal to the combatants, people of Ugandan and international community that they have reach a point of no return in pursue of sustainable peace in Uganda.
Responding to question raised by LRA team leader on issue of ICC, Rugunda said government of Ugandan have never seen any danger emanating from ICC as stabling bock in trying LRA commanders accused of committing human rights abuses during their 21 years of insurgency in northern Uganda.
Rugunda reiterated that Uganda government is committed to signed agreement on Accountability and Reconciliation which stipulates that any LRA members accused would have to be trying in Ugandan court. He also reminded LRA team and the mediators that Uganda Judiciary has already started putting in place legal mechanisms of international standard for trying accused LRA combatants.
The LRA/M team leader, David Matsanga, said he was overjoyed by signing of a permanent ceasefire agreement that will pave ways for total silent of guns anywhere around the northern and northeastern region of Uganda with spill over to neighbouring countries.
He said Joseph Kony has blessed the signing and extended greetings to all the parties and the mediators by satellite phone from his hide out location in Riikwang few minutes before signing ceremony takes off. He appealed to the international community to support them up to the final and reintegration and rebuilding stages in the war affected areas. Finally he requested the mediator to give them the copy of final draft so that they take it General Joseph Kony for final perusal.
DECLARATION AND COMMENCEMENT OF CEASEFIRE
The agreement stipulates that upon coming into force of the ceasefire the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement shall lapse.
The rebel LRA/M and the government of Uganda should ensure that their forces abide by the terms of the ceasefire.
ASSEMBLY AD ENCAMPMENT
All forces of the LRA should be encamped within Riikwang-Ba assembly area and parties are obliged to respect the buffer zone around Riikwang-Ba Assembly Area.
The agreement stipulates that nobody should approach or gain access to the LRA Assembly Area except with express written permission from the Office of the Chief Mediator, and with notification of the Ceasefire Monitoring Team(CMT).
Upon coming into force of this Agreement there will be reinforcement of the Cessation of Hostilities Monitoring Team will be transform into Ceasefire Monitoring Team and shall composed of: two senior SPLA officers as team Leader and Deputy, five representatives each from UPDF and LRA, five members from each of the African Union observer countries to the peace talks and five from the United Nations. The Chief Mediator may in consultation with the Parties restructure the composition of the CMT.
The CMT should be considered constituted when at least the SPLA Team Leader or Deputy present together with at least two members each of UPDF and LRA plus two members from each of the African Union observer countries who shall receive training on international standards of ceasefire monitoring.
Upon the coming into force of this Agreement the Standard Operating Procedures of the Cessation of Hostilities Monitoring Team (CHMT) would become the Standard Operating Procedures of the CMT and should whenever necessary, be revised in order to bring it into conformity with this Agreement.
The CMT should have free and unhindered access to the Assembly area in carrying out its duties and should enjoy full protection of both Parties.
All personnel and equipment of organizations or persons duly authorized to enter or operate in the Assembly Area in support of the Ceasefire Agreement should be afforded full protection and security.
The terms of reference for the CMT should include but not necessarily be limited to: taking full responsibility for the management of the Assembly Area; monitoring the implementation of this Agreement; amicable resolution of any disagreement arising out of the implementation or interpretation of this Agreement; analyzing and reporting events and trends to the Mediator, who will brief the Parties accordingly; reporting to the mediator violations and cases which the CMT is unable to resolve amicably; and, monitoring the delivery of basic assistance to the LRA in the Assembly Area. The CMT should carry out its functions consistently with the principles contained in the Final Peace Agreement.
By signing the permanent ceasefire, the parties are obliged to refrain from violating the ceasefire. Otherwise, any attacks, threats or acts of violence directed against the other Party, civilians or any other persons by party, Harassment of personnel of humanitarian agencies, hostage taking, hostile propaganda directed against the other Party, including defamatory, untruthful or derogatory statements and arrest of combatants as well as seizure of arms and equipment belonging to the other party constitute violation of the permanent ceasefire.
Also violation of the right to life of LRA/M members by either party or third parties associated with the parties, movement of LRA forces outside Riikwang-Ba Assembly Area, acquisition, recovery or replenishment of arms, ammunition or other military equipment, Recruitment of forces by the LRA are treated as violation of the permanent ceasefire.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE GOVERNMENT OF SOUTHERN SUDAN
Is charged with responsibility of ensuring that full SPLA battalion is deployed for the protection of the Riikwang-Ba Assembly area and the buffer zone; international standards and mandates, in particular, Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (2000), and Security Council Resolution 1612 on Children and Armed Conflict (2005) are applied; provides adequate security, logistical and service support to the LRA encampment sites in the Assembly Area.
The government of southern Sudan and the LRA should collaborate with relevant Sudanese civil society and international agencies to ensure that the layout, access, services and procedures of LRA encampment sites within the assembly area conform to applicable standards and specifications of the UN IDDRS.
The Parties should ensure that the terms of this Ceasefire Agreement and all orders requiring compliance are communicated to all their forces.
The terms of this Agreement should also be communicated to the civilian population via print, electronic and other media.
The permanent ceasefire also demands that neighbouring countries, regional and international partners should respect this Agreement and help ensure its successful implementation.
It is on record that Cessation of Hostility was signed on 26th August 2006, Comprehensive Solutions on 2nd May 2007, Accountability and Reconciliation on 29th June 2007 and implementation modalities including power sharing signed on 22nd February 2008 respectively.
The accord was endorsed by: Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon, Vice President, Government of Southern Sudan And Chief Mediator of the Peace Talks, Joaquim Alberto Chissano, Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary General for LRA affected areas, André M Kapanga, for the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Japheth R. Getugi, for the Government of the Republic of Kenya, Nsavike G. Ndatta, for the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, Lt. Gen. (Rtd.) Gilbert Lebeko Ramano, for the Government of the Republic of South Africa, Heidi Johansen, for the Government of Norway, Ms Anna Sundström, Political Advisor to the EU Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region, for the European Union and Bryan E. Burton for the Government of Canada, Timothy R. Shortley, Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, for the Government of the United States of America.