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East Africa: IRIN News Briefs, 9 December

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UGANDA-SUDAN: Presidents sign peace accord
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir on Wednesday signed an agreement aimed at re-establishing diplomatic relations and promoting peace in the region, a communique issued by the mediating body, the Carter Centre, said. "President al-Bashir and President Museveni have taken an important step to restoring
diplomatic relations and encouraging peace in their countries and all of East Africa," former US president Jimmy Carter said after the signing ceremony in Nairobi. Among the pledges contained in the 11-point document are renouncing the use of force to resolve differences, disbanding and disarming terrorist groups, respecting each country's sovereignty and
territorial integrity, ceasing support to any rebel groups. They also agreed to return all prisoners of war to their respective nations, locate and return abductees to their families and offer amnesty and reintegration assistance to all former combatants who renounce the use of force.

A statement from the Carter Centre said the agreement also called for the formation of a joint ministerial committee and technical support teams to establish a timetable of specific steps to implement the agreement. The accord is complementary to the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) peace process. Contrary to press reports, Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi only participated as host and witness during the signing, and not as chairman, a Kenyan foreign ministry official told IRIN. He said shuttle diplomacy and talks had been going on between the two countries "for a
while" and that it seemed the Sudanese government "has confidence" in the Carter Centre.

UGANDA-SUDAN: Rebel leader not worried by agreement

Meanwhile, leader of the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) John Garang on Wednesday said it was unfortunate that neither Kampala nor Khartoum had informed him of the Nairobi summit, the independent Ugandan 'Monitor' reported. The paper quoted him as saying he was not bothered by the talks since they were "neither the first nor the
last". He also said he did not receive military support from Uganda and that there were presently no SPLA soldiers on Ugandan soil. "All we need in Uganda and other neighbours are open borders for the local population to trade, and passage for our military hardware," he said.

UGANDA: Parliament passes amnesty bill

The Ugandan parliament on Tuesday passed an amnesty bill which seeks to pardon rebels who surrender to the government, news organisations reported. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) said the bill would initially be in force for six months with provision for an extension. It said the rebels would have six months to surrender from the date President
Museveni signs the bill into law. The new law completes a change of policy by the government which had previously maintained that rebel groups could only be "subdued militarily", the BBC said. The main rebel groups are the
Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in the north and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in the west.

UGANDA: Kony "critically ill"

LRA commander Joseph Kony is said to be critically ill in Khartoum, the 'Monitor' reported on Tuesday. Quoting London-based LRA sources, the paper said 31 year-old Kony is suspected to be suffering from AIDS and currently hospitalised in a suburb south of Khartoum.

EAST AFRICA: EAC treaty signed

The three East African countries, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania signed a treaty last week establishing a new East African Community (EAC) with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. The treaty covers regional cooperation in political, economic, social, cultural, security and legal matters. So far, the priority is being accorded to economic cooperation which is
expected to provide a basis for political cooperation in future, EAC spokesman Magaga Alot told IRIN. The treaty which contains 153 articles has 29 chapters stipulating, among other issues, cooperation in trade liberalisation, finance, infrastructure, development of human resources, science and technology.

Other chapters are on free movement of persons, labour and services, enhancing the role of women in socio-economic development, cooperation in investment and industrial development, the private sector and civil society. It also touches on areas such as agriculture, natural resources, wildlife and tourism, health, political and judicial affairs. Magaga said
the treaty envisages the establishment of a Customs Union as the entry point of the Community, a common market, a monetary union and ultimately a political federation of the three states.

TANZANIA: Ruling party to approve constitutional reforms

Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa on Monday said the recommendations of a presidential committee, which collected public views on proposed constitutional reform, will have to pass the test of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) before they are sent to parliament. 'The Guardian' newspaper quoted Mkapa as saying "serious issues" such as constitutional
reform must first get the approval of the party. "Before it is sent to parliament, the report and the views of the cabinet must pass the test of the CCM central committee and the National Executive Committee (NEC) to ensure that it is in agreement with party policies," he said. He reportedly stressed that nobody could influence the government on how to deal with the recommendations contained in the report.

[ENDS]

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