KAMPALA, Uganda -- The Ugandan government and Lord's Resistance Army rebels agreed yesterday to end a 19-year conflict that has left thousands dead in one of Africa's longest wars, government officials said.
The agreement, reached during peace talks in southern Sudan, calls for both sides to end all military action at 2 a.m. EDT on Tuesday.
``We have agreed on the issues and put our signatures on the document," government spokesman Paddy Ankunda said by telephone from Juba, southern Sudan.
``We are happy, and now we will continue working for a comprehensive peace agreement," Ankunda said. The Ugandan army will continue operations until the deadline, he said.
Rebel negotiators could not immediately be reached for comment.
The rebels have three weeks from the start of the cease-fire to gather at two points in southern Sudan, where they will be given food and monitored by southern Sudanese forces, government officials said. They also will have a guarantee of safe passage from Uganda to southern Sudan.
The government of Sudan's autonomous southern region is mediating the peace process.
In a news conference with the Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, after the closed-door meeting Saturday, south Sudan's president, Salva Kiir, said that both Ugandan and south Sudanese forces would fight the rebels if the peace process failed.
The Lord's Resistance Army is made up of the remnants of a rebellion that began after Museveni took power as president in 1986.
The group is known for abducting thousands of children and forcing them to become fighters, servants, or sex slaves.
Estimates of the number of Lord's Resistance Army fighters vary from 500 to 5,000. The rebels hold no territory but thousands of civilians have died in the conflict and 1.7 million have fled their homes, according to relief organizations.
Rebel leader Joseph Kony has called for Uganda to be governed according to the Ten Commandments, but his group has had no clear political agenda.
During negotiations last month, rebel representatives said they wanted to draw attention to the government's neglect of northern and eastern Uganda.
The Lord's Resistance Army delegation signed the deal and the rebels now must inform fighters scattered throughout northern Uganda of the agreement.
The two sides also must agree on safe assembly points in southern Sudan.