DR Congo gov't, M23 rebels peace talks resume in Uganda

DR Congo gov
# 08 April 2013 21:55 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Talks aimed at ending fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) between government troops and the M23 rebels resumed in the Ugandan capital Kampala on Monday after a long lull, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

The government delegation and the M23 rebel delegation convened at the Commonwealth Speke Resort Munyonyo on the shores of Lake Victoria.

The Ugandan mediated talks resumed at a time when the UN Security Council on March 28 authorized the deployment of an intervention brigade within the current UN peacekeeping operation in DRC to address imminent threats to peace and security.

The intervention brigade will carry out targeted offensive operations, with or without the Congolese national army, against armed groups including the M23 that threaten peace in the eastern part of the vast central African country.

The talks which started in December last year also resumed after one faction of the M23 broke away following a bitter fighting in the rebel ranks.

Despite UN authorization of the intervention force, Crispus Kiyonga, the mediator of the talks, also Uganda's minister of defense told reporters that the M23 rebels are still committed to the talks.

"Since we adjourned, the UN Security Council took a resolution . .that is an important development because we have to take it into account in our discussions," he said.

He assured the M23 that as long as the peace process continues, they would not be attacked, noting that the intervention force would attack other local and foreign rebel groups in the region.

He said the resolution of the Congo crisis cannot be resolved only militarily, noting that the political process is critical in ending the suffering of the Congolese people who have faced brutual rebellions.

"The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) firmly believes that the solution to the problems in the eastern DRC is fundamentally political. The military track can only support the political process. The military track cannot be a standalone and cannot bring sustainable peace to any part of the world."

Rene Abandi who spoke on behalf of the M23 at the resumptions of the talks expressed concern that despite the outfit's several measures to bring peace in their area of control, the UN Security Council went ahead to pass a resolution that targets them.

Abandi said although majority of the people who had fled fighting are returning home, they are being scared by international organizations which he said are sounding war drums.

He said that by the UN Security Council passing the resolution, it was undermining the peace process, noting that you cannot promote peace dialogue at the same time with war.

He said the M23 was ready to defend itself but this could lead to a lot of bloodshed, a factor the rebel group would like to avoid in favor of peace.

"Let's imagine the worst of the situation, dialogue leads to war. If at all this brigade attacks and it is defeated, will the DRC government rush to the ICGLR asking for help. We are ready to go for peace. We are asking this assembly to assist us or we go for war and stop making the world believe that war and dialogue can go on concurrently," he said.

Abandi accused the Congolese government of undermining the peace process by alleging that the government said that the M23 was already dead waiting for burial.

Muholongu Malumalu, the DRC government representative at the talks dismissed the M23 allegations, saying that it is still committed to the peace process aimed at ending the suffering of the Congolese.

"There is a time for everything; we hope that the time for concluding this dialogue has come. Let us look at the suffering of the Congo people. We are confident that we must work for lasting peace; time has come to bury the war hatchet," Malumalu said.