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DRC-Uganda: Kinshasa, Kampala agree to ceasefire in Bunia

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NAIROBI, 14 March (IRIN) - Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have agreed on a ceasefire effective on Monday in the northeastern city of Bunia from which Ugandan troops recently expelled a Congolese rebel faction led by Thomas Lubanga, the Ugandan state-owned newspaper reported.
The New Vision reported that the agreement followed a meeting, in the northern Ugandan town of Gulu, between Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and a DRC delegation representing his counterpart, Joseph Kabila.

The DRC delegation was led by Human Rights Minister Ntumba Luaba, the daily reported, citing a statement by the Ugandan State House - the official home of the president. It said the UN Mission in the DRC would organise the ceasefire ceremony.

Ugandan troops and allied Lendu and Ngiti militiamen entered Bunia, in Ituri District, on 6 March and drove out Lubanga's Union des patriotes congolais (UPC). The action attracted a call by the US ambassador to the DRC, Aubrey Hooks, for Uganda to withdraw from Bunia. Rejecting this, Ugandan Defence Minister Ruth Nankabirwa said on Thursday that it was not about to happen anytime soon. "His statement calling for our withdrawal is very premature," Nankabirwa told reporters at the weekly briefing at president's office.

Meanwhile, the Ugandan army has ordered the UPC to withdraw from all airports in Ituri the army considered a strategic threat to Uganda. The order was contained in a message sent to Lubanga and his commanders by the Ugandan military chief political commissar, Brig Kale Kaihura, on Tuesday.

The order comes amidst reports by Radio Candip in Bunia that Ugandan troops had recaptured the eastern town of Mogbwalu, along with its airstrip, on Wednesday. The Ugandans had also seized the town of Irumu, some 30 km west of Bunia, it said.

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