Sabahi (Washington, DC)

13 December 2013

Kenya: DRC, M23 Rebels Sign Peace Agreement in Nairobi

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) government and March 23rd Movement (M23) rebels successfully concluded peace talks Thursday (December 12th) in Nairobi, hailed as a step towards lasting peace in the Great Lakes region.

The talks concluded with the M23, which laid down its arms a month ago, undertaking to transform itself into a peaceful political party, while the DRC government said it would assist the process of demobilising and disarming the rebels, which may include a partial amnesty, AFP reported.

The Kenyan presidency trumpeted the "peace deal" but the DRC government stressed there had only been a signing of unilateral declarations, not a peace accord.

The agreement marks the culmination of 11 months of formal dialogue between the two sides in an attempt to end armed conflict and bring stability to the region.

Tanzanian soldiers deployed to eastern DRC in May, comprising more than one-third of the United Nations Force Intervention Brigade that helped the DRC army defeat the rebels.

US special envoy to the Great Lakes region Russell Feingold, who helped broker the deal, described the outcome of the talks as "good news in a region that has had a lot of bad luck".

"What these talks have done is to get rid of one of the worst groups, the M23. It took a year, the international community had to get very involved, but we did stop them in the end," he told AFP. "It is a first step, and it is an important first step."

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