DRC M23 rebels 'ready' for talks

2013-09-06 07:39
M23 rebels in the Masisi and Sake areas of eastern Congo. (Jerome Delay, AP/File)

M23 rebels in the Masisi and Sake areas of eastern Congo. (Jerome Delay, AP/File)

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Kinshasa - Rebels from the Democratic Republic of Congo's M23 movement are "ready" to resume talks with Kinshasa in the Ugandan capital of Kampala following months of deadlock, their leader Bertrand Bisimwa said on Thursday.

"Our delegates are already in Kampala. They are ready to negotiate with Kinshasa immediately as soon as the request has been passed on by the mediator," Bisimwa said by telephone after neighbouring Great Lakes nations called for talks to resume "within three days" on Thursday.

Bisimwa hopes that the new round of talks, which began in December and has been suspended since May, will address the "deep-seated causes of the conflict" and that Kinshasa will "really get involved".

The Congolese government cautiously welcomed the M23 announcement. "We had the impression that some wanted to drag things out," spokesperson Lambert Mende told AFP, adding that Kinshasa had "never left the table".

Presidents from Africa's Great Lakes region on Thursday demanded that Kinshasa restart the talks with the rebels immediately to end the brutal conflict there.

"Dialogue should resume within three days... and conclude within a maximum period of 14 days," the leaders said in a statement, after talks in the Ugandan capital aimed at brokering a deal to end the fighting.

The meeting of the 11-member International Conference on the Great Lakes Region - the seventh such summit held to try to find a lasting solution - comes amid a recent upsurge in violence.

According to the declaration signed by the states, "the M23 will put an end to all military activity and stop the war and threats to overthrow the legal government of the Democratic Republic of Congo".

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