14 December 2012

Congo-Kinshasa: DRC Govt, M23 in Closed-Door Talks

Photo: Sylvain Liechti/UN Photo
M23 rebels.

PRELIMINARY negotiations between the DRC government and M23 rebels continued yesterday in closed sessions in Kampala, Uganda, with the facilitator and both sides consulting on the agenda of the talks.

Lt Col. Paddy Ankunda, Deputy Spokesman, Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF), said the two sides have for the last two days been deliberating on the rules of procedure and agenda of the talks.

"We hope that by the end of today (yesterday) this phase will be concluded and then meet tomorrow for the plenary that will endorse both items," Ankunda said.

The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) facilitator, Dr Crispus Kiyonga, Uganda's Minister of Defence, mediated the sessions.

Both the Kinshasa and the M23 delegations have for the last few days treaded accusations, sometimes in the presence of journalists.

M23 delegation chief Francois Rucogoza said the security situation in the eastern Congo was down to the government's refusal to recognise that "there are internal problems that need thorough diagnosis and treatment."

"It is a consequence of poor governance," Rucogoza said.

The government delegation is led by Foreign Affairs minister Raymond Tshibanda, who accused the rebels team of insulting the government in their opening statement.

The preliminary talks between the warring parties began a week after the M23 pulled back its fighters from the Congolese strategic towns of Goma and Sake under a regional arrangement that required President Joseph Kabila's government to allow political talks.

The group was formed when hundreds of fighters deserted from the Congolese army early this year, accusing the government of reneging on a 2009 peace deal which had ended an earlier rebellion.

ICGLR, which is leading diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict, is a regional grouping composed of 12 countries.

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