DRC returns to negotiations with rebels

2013-09-07 09:25

Kinshasa - Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) said on Friday it would return to negotiations with eastern rebels next week after regional leaders set a two-week deadline for peace talks to end an 18-month-old rebellion.

A summit of five African presidents from the Great Lakes region called on Thursday for Congo to restart the stalled talks with the M23 insurgents within three days, after military successes left the government in a stronger position.

With the help of a new UN Intervention Brigade, which has a tough mandate to neutralise armed groups, Congo's army has pushed M23 fighters away from Goma, a city of 1 million people on the shores of Lake Kivu.

Congolese President Joseph Kabila opened Ugandan-hosted talks with the M23 after the rebels briefly seized Goma late last year but negotiations stalled as the government pursued a military solution. Peace talks with the Tutsi rebels are unpopular with many in the vast, former Belgian colony.

The insurgents have repeatedly called for a return to the negotiating table.

"Democratic Republic of Congo will be present in Kampala on Monday, in accordance with the heads of state statement," Congolese government spokesperson Lambert Mende said. "If the minister is not there, the ambassador will be there."

Francois Mwamba, spokesperson for Congo's delegation in Kampala, told Reuters that Ugandan mediators were due to present a draft peace deal on Monday and the two sides would then have two weeks to present their amendments.

Millions of people have died from violence, disease and hunger since the 1990s as foreign-backed ethnic rebel groups have fought for control of eastern Congo's rich deposits of gold, diamonds and tin, destabilising the Great Lakes region.


Kinshasa had recently insisted it would not negotiate with M23 until it laid down its weapons.

The rebels accuse Congo of violating a 2009 peace deal which pledged to incorporate its fighters into the army, and of supporting Hutu rebels in the region who have terrorised the local Tutsi population.

A military standoff has prevailed since the M23 pulled back to Kibumba, some 30km north of Goma, last week with UN forces reluctant to pursue the rebels deep into the forests of North Kivu province.

Tensions have been fanned by accusations from UN experts that Rwanda is backing the rebels.

Kigali denies supporting M23 but last week threatened to send its army into Congo after it accused its neighbour of shelling its territory.

Mary Robinson, UN Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region, said a peace deal would not be made at the expense of holding people accountable for war committed in eastern Congo.

"We are not going to repeat the errors of the past. We are very convinced that we do not need an amnesty for people who have committed serious crimes," Robinson said, according to UN Radio Okapi, in comments translated from French.

  • Horace Kawaka - 2013-09-07 10:58

    Make the circle bigger :(

  • Oben Clifford - 2013-09-07 11:23

    Best way to have everlastin peace in DRC is to kill al th M23 rebels...else M23 wil gv birth to M24,M25 etc..ATTACK!!!

      Chanki Modise - 2013-09-07 11:53

      I concur with you on this one finish this animals off.

      Everton Bouwer - 2013-09-07 16:26

      That may be a lot harder to achieve than you might think.M23 controll a vast area of Eastern Congo and to even attempt a full scale assault,with extreme predjudice,would cost millions of dollars,countless lives and not to mention,years to complete.who is going to kill them?the DRC government has been struggling to even contain these rebels.the SANDF,whilst doing an admirable job sofar,is not fully prepared for a 'Vietnam' style war with a well prepared army who have terrain advantage.No my friend,negotiations,with military pressure,is the only viable solution to this problem.

      Jack Fa K Lo - 2013-09-08 06:39

      U r saying Best way DRC to be in peace is only to kll all M23, who gonna them KABILA? KABILA is a mother pussy, him is M23 a Rebel hw can he kill them?

  • Victor van der Walt - 2013-09-07 11:39

    Dump 100 tons of ammo and weapons and let them sort them selves out once and for all.

      JP Barutwanayo - 2013-09-07 15:30

      You're too idiot to understand what's going on there.

      Charity Manyande - 2013-09-08 07:16

      Reall Victor?you certaintly don't knw wat is going down there do you

  • Jack Fa K Lo - 2013-09-08 06:45

    Joseph Kabila he is a Rebel in DRC congo, se how Congolise there suffuring every wher in the world, one thing we need is only to leave the presidency or he must die finish and kla.

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