Congo signs ceasefire with Ninja rebels

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JOHANNESBURG– Brazzaville has signed a ceasefire with rebels in the south-east region of Pool, in the Republic of Congo, thereby halting a 15-year conflict that rights groups say has cost dozens of lives and forced tens of thousands to flee, Reuters reports.

Political unrest and violence spiked in the Central African oil producer after a contested presidential election in April 2016 were won by President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who has ruled for 33 of the last 38 years.

A rebel group known as the Ninjas and led by Frederic Bintsamou, better known as Pastor Ntumi, which fought Sassou Nguesso during and after a 1997 civil war, is accused by Brazzaville of being behind deadly raids on police, military and government bases since 2002, leading to regular clashes with the country’s military.

Saturday’s peace agreement between the two sides was signed by Interior Ministry security advisor François Ndé and Pastor Ntumi’s representative, Jean Gustave Ntondo.

“Today is a great day for the Congolese. This is the day we have just signed the cessation of hostilities agreement,” said Ntondo.

The deal involves the militias handing over arms and allowing free movement of trade between the capital Brazzaville and the commercial hub of Pointe Noire.

During hostilities, trains and cars were often halted by militias.

In return the government will ease its security clampdown, allowing people to travel to and from their family homes, all of which will be supervised by a commission which will monitor the peace.

African News Agency (ANA)