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Ugandan, US forces hunting LRA welcome CAR truce

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KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Ugandan soldiers and U.S forces who are pursuing the leader of the brutal Lord's Resistance Army in the jungles of the Central African Republic say a recent rebellion has not affected their operations, but officials said they welcome a peace deal signed with rebels anyway.

The peace deal signed last week puts an end to any fears that a flare-up in violence in the landlocked country would influence the hunt for LRA leader Joseph Kony and his deputies. President Obama sent 100 U.S. special forces to help advise in the hunt about a year ago.

Rebels over the last month had marched toward the capital of the Central African Republic, but a peace deal reached last week will instead let President Francois Bozize stay in office until his term ends in 2016. Late last month CAR troops abandoned joint counter-LRA operations with Ugandan forces as the government increased security in the capital.

"We are glad that they have reached a compromise," said Col. Felix Kulayigye, spokesman of the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces. "The rebels did not come our way, and the way things are developing we believe our work will continue unhindered."

Kulayigye and Daniel Travis, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Uganda, said the rebel-government fighting had no effect on the hunt for Kony.

"It hasn't had a negative impact in terms of affecting our operations because the fighting has been happening far away from our operational bases," Travis said. "The UPDF is operating in the CAR with permission of the CAR government and as far as we know, they will continue operating there for the foreseeable future."

Ugandan forces, aided by the 100 Americans, are positioned in Obo and Djema, in the east of the Central African Republic, hundreds of miles from the northern part of the country where much of the fighting was centered.

President Francois Bozize signed a decree removing the country's prime minister the weekend, one of the steps called for in a peace deal with the rebels.

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