(dpa) -Uganda's government and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels are set to sign a landmark peace deal to end 22 years of war based on a twisted version of the Ten Commandments that left tens of thousands dead or maimed.
The brutal war in the north has uprooted millions from their homes, forcing them to flee to sprawling camps. An entire generation of poor Ugandans has known nothing but war.
When President Yoweri Museveni shot his way into power in 1986, a rag-tag army of unarmed peasants from the northern Acholi tribe soon sprang up under a self-professed priestess who told them that the water she sprinkled on their bodies would protect them from bullets.
The Holy Spirit Movement led by Alice Lakwena later regrouped under the command of Joseph Kony, also an Acholi and a former Catholic Church lay preacher.
Kony, a semi-illiterate man now in his late 40s, began by telling his militias that Uganda's problems stemmed from a lack of adherence to the Bible's Ten Commandments, professing that the LRA would fight to install a government based on biblical teachings.
But the LRA's crusade hardly followed the Bible's teachings. The cult-like militia group became more organized and mass-enlisted - often by force - the marginalized Acholis who had been pushed out of power by Museveni's troops in the 1980s.
The LRA began abducting and maiming people to apparently scare them into submission and deter them from supporting the government - breaking the commandments it so adhered to.
The capture of children and youths became a central strategy of the LRA which used them as porters and later turned them into fighters to commit atrocities, while girls were used as sex slaves or "married" to rebels.
International charity groups and the United Nations estimate that up to 25,000 children were kidnapped by the LRA during its vicious campaign.
The Ugandan government, realizing that the civilians were being forced to join the LRA, decided to place the region's entire population into camps.
After years of continued battles between LRA fighters and government troops, the first attempts to end the Ugandan war through peace talks in 1994 were fruitless partly because at the time, the LRA's military and political faces were largely unknown.
Fresh attempts at peace were revived a decade later, but after weeks of indirect talks through a mediator, the LRA rejected a draft peace treaty with no explanation.
Uganda shortly after asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to indict the LRA leaders and The Hague-based court in late 2005 issued warrants of arrest to five top rebel commanders including Kony on charges of killings, rape and abducting and drafting children into war.
The indicted rebels were never arrested and two of them have since died in the bush.
In mid-2006, Museveni abruptly announced an amnesty for the LRA and soon-after opened talks with them under the mediation of southern Sudan's leaders.
Finally, a cessation of hostilities pact was agreed to that would pave the way to the final peace deal. Despite the agreement, tensions remained high between the rival groups, with each side accusing the other of violating the deal.
While the final agreement is welcomed by most, especially northern Ugandans yearning for peace, it fails to set out a timeline to release the thousands of women and children believed to be held by the LRA as well as a deadline for the disarming of the group.
Moreover, as long as the ICC pursues its decision to try the three commanders, despite Museveni's promise of local justice, the peace deal remains threatened and suspect in the eyes of the LRA.