Thursday, June 6, 2013

DR Congo rebels say will resume peace talks with government


DR Congo rebels say will resume peace talks with government

Peace talks were suspended in early May

  • AFP
  • Published: 14:43 June 6, 2013
  • Image Credit: AFP
  • Benjamin Mbonimpa, an administrator of the M23 rebel group, (4L) President of the political wing of M23, Bertrand Bisimwa (C) and M23 military wing leader Brigadier General Sultan Makenga (4R) take part in a meeting on June 1, 2013 in Rumangabo military camp, 40km from Goma, at the end of a refresher training for soldiers.

Kinshasa: DR Congo’s M23 rebels will send a delegation this weekend to resume peace talks with the government that were suspended in early May, a senior official said late on Wednesday.

“The M23... confirms that its delegation will go to Kampala this Sunday June 9 in order to continue the dialogue,” Bertrand Bisimwa, the political head of the rebel movement, said in a statement.

Bisimwa said the decision was an outcome of a regional tour in late May by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his special envoy for the central African Great Lakes region, Mary Robinson, who visited the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda.

The senior UN officials called for “a political solution that would resolve the underlying causes of the crisis in the east of the DRC”, Bisimwa added.

M23 has been active in North Kivu province since May 2012. The uprising began with a mutiny by former rebels who had become part of the national army, but last year accused the Kinshasa government of failing to abide by a peace pact signed on March 23, 2009.

Talks to end the crisis began between the two sides at the beginning of December in the Ugandan capital Kampala, but on May 2, the rebels suspended their participation in the peace process, demanding that the DRC government sign a ceasefire.

The movement’s announcement that it wants to resume talks came as a UN intervention brigade with a Security Council mandate to take the offensive against rebel forces pursued its deployment in Goma, chief town of the mineral-rich and unstable North Kivu province.

The brigade of soldiers from South Africa, Tanzania and Malawi will comprise about 3,000 men at full strength and has a tougher brief than the current UN mission in the DRC, MONUSCO, which is limited to a defensive mandate to protect civilians.

M23 seized Goma in an offensive that started last November 20, but the rebels withdrew on December 1. UN experts accuse Rwanda and Uganda of supporting the rebels — a claim denied by both neighbouring countries.


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