M23 Rebels Threaten to Pull Out of Congo Talks Even as Negotiations Move Forward

From Enough blogs Wed Jan 23 2013, 10:54:20

Despite failing to see eye-to-eye on a range of issues up for discussion in the Kampala peace talks, the Congolese government and the M23 rebels moved ahead over the weekend with a review of the March 23, 2009 agreement that is officially at the crux of the movement's rebellion. The Saturday session, which lasted well into the night, left both sides satisfied, according to Thomas Muiti, North Kivu civil society president.

Questions remain about the legality of any deal struck outside the Congolese parliament, particularly with a group deemed a "negative force" which is claiming implementation of an agreement to which it was not a signatory. (The M23 as such never signed an agreement with the GoDRC; its mother movement, the CNDP, did.) However, influential delegate Edward Mwangachuchu, who is the chairman of the CNDP but, curiously, is taking part in the talks on the side of the Congolese government, told the Enough Project he urged both sides to continue to negotiate in good faith.

Last Wednesday, the M23 rebels and the Congolese government reached agreement on the agenda for negotiations to end the humanitarian and security crisis in the east after two weeks of preliminary talks. But even as political representatives of the rebel movement signed off on ground rules in Kampala, high-ranking military officers expressed concern about the trajectory of the talks and said the M23 delegation could pull out at any time.

Congolese civil society contacts in Kampala told the Enough Project that M23 views the Ugandan mediator as "being too close to the DRC delegation" given that Uganda President and ICGLR chairperson Yoweri Museveni and has reportedly warned that all of Congo's problems cannot be dealt with in the Kampala talks alone and has therefore limited the M23 grievances on the table to nine issues, from their original 21. The mediator had notified the rebels' delegation of that decision, which therefore stoked fears that in the event of a reintegration process, "it will ...

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