amnesty buys truce

ABUJA - Authorities in Nigeria yesterday welcomed a 60-day truce, announced by the country's main rebel group in its so-called oil war, after the release of its leader Henry Okah under an amnesty.

ABUJA - Authorities in Nigeria yesterday welcomed a 60-day truce, announced by the country's main rebel group in its so-called oil war, after the release of its leader Henry Okah under an amnesty.

"I salute the decision. The ceasefire was a result of our contact with them," said Timiebi Koripamo-Agary, spokesperson for an amnesty committee set up by President Umaru Yar'Adua.

"We have made it clear to them that the president is honest and can be trusted and that the government is ready for dialogue with anybody on the need for peace anddevelopment."

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend), Nigeria's main militant group, said yesterday it would observe a 60-day truce in the conflict, in which it has repeatedly targeted oil installations and foreign oil companies and their staff.

Mend said it was ready for talks. The militants want an elite military unit to be withdrawn from a specific area, the scene of heavy clashes in recent months.

Mend said talks with the government would cover "fiscal federalism to gas flaring". It is also demanding investigations into extrajudicial killings it blames on the government. - Sapa-AFP

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