13 December 2013

Kenya: Congo, M23 Sign Peace Deal in Nairobi

Photo: ICRC
Families reunited after months of separation.

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the M23 movement which early last month abandoned rebellion against Kinshasa, yesterday, finally signed a peace deal, weeks after both sides had failed to put pen to paper.

The deal was signed in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, raising hopes for sustainable peace in eastern Congo, where UN peacekeepers and the national army are reportedly gaining ground against a host of militia groups.

Under the declaration, which reflects the consensus reached during the Kampala peace talks, the M23 commit itself to abandon rebellion and transform itself into a political party.

The signing ceremony was guaranteed by both the Chairperson of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Chairperson, Dr. Joyce Banda, on behalf of their sub regions.

"The peace agreement signed is a good step that can be built on," said James Mugume, the Permanent Secretary in Uganda's Ministry of Foreign affairs.

According to the communiqué signed by both parties at the State House in Nairobi, the documents reiterate earlier agreed on decisions during the Kampala negotiations, including return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes.

They also agreed on amnesty to members of M23 only for acts of war and insurgency, transnational security arrangements leading to disarmament, and release of M23 rebels under detention by DRC government for acts of war and rebellion.

Others are; demobilisation of former M23 combatants, implementation of the conclusions of the review of the implementations of the March 23, 2009 peace agreement and the implementation, monitoring and evaluation mechanism for the agreed positions.

The Kampala peace talks began in December 2012 and ended last month. The negotiations were held under the auspices of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.

The DRC government and the rebels had failed to seal a deal last month over disagreements on what it should be called.

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