11 December 2012

Congo-Kinshasa: DRC, M23 Talks Hit Snag Again

Photo: Kate Holt/IRIN

Negotiations between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government and M23 rebels stalled again yesterday after the M23 delegation refused to turn up to listen to the DRC government rebuttal on allegations made against it.

Uganda's Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga and ICGLR facilitator opened the meeting that was only attended by the DRC delegation and a few religious leaders.

When the ICGLR facilitator invited DRC Foreign Minister Raymond Tshibanda to make his statement, yesterday he requested that M23 be given more time up to today to turn up for the meeting.

"It is important that M23 listens to what we have to say. I will make the statement tomorrow (today) whether they are here or not," the DRC Minister said.

In a brief session that lasted under thirty minutes, Kiyonga said that the M23 head of delegation François Rucogoza had told him that he received orders not to attend the meeting.

"I personally rang the M23 leader and he told me that he was under instructions not to attend this particular meeting. However, I want to make it clear that M23 is still around for the negotiations," he said.

Tshibanda is seeking to react to allegations made by Rucogoza over the weekend, which pinned the DRC government on alleged killings of forty six former CNDP soldiers.

M23 also said that the DRC government has continued to closely cooperate with the FDLR militia as well as continuously killing Kinyarwanda-speaking Congolese.

When contacted, Rucogoza told The New Times that they will still not attend the meeting today, but are determined to continue with the negotiations.

"We shall not be there today. We shall wait for him to say whatever he has to say and we react to it," he said.

Earlier, Kiyonga had met both Tshibanda and Rucogoza and held consultations on the ground rules for the negotiations.

Kiyonga said that the consultations are expected to conclude today and substantive talks begin before the end of this week.

The talks are under the auspices of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), a regional grouping which Uganda currently chairs.

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