Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


DRC, M23 rebels fail to sign

12 November 2013, 08:31

Entebbe - The Democratic Republic of Congo and defeated M23 rebels failed to sign a peace deal on Monday hoped to be a key step in ending decades of war, after Kinshasa demanded the agreement be revised.

The "DRC delegation has aborted the signing of agreement with M23," Ugandan government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo said, adding that the meeting was adjourned without a new date scheduled.

The rebels, one of many armed groups operating in the mineral-rich but impoverished east of the DR Congo, have been routed by the national army, who are backed by a 3 000-strong special UN intervention brigade.

"For some strange reason the delegation of the DRC government did not enter the conference room, where the signing ceremony was expected to be," Opondo told reporters.

"They belatedly called for revision of the terms of the agreement and we have adjourned consequently."

However, DR Congo government spokesperson Lambert Mende said the problem was the title of the deal to be signed, and the legal weight it therefore carried.

"We want to sign a 'declaration', but the mediator, for a reason we do not understand, wants to impose an 'accord' upon us," Mende said.

"If he changed his mind, even tonight, we could sign."

Allegedly supported by neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda but seemingly abandoned by their sponsors due to international pressure, the M23 announced last week that its 18-month insurgency was over.

Delegations from both Kinshasa's government and the rebels arrived Monday evening at Uganda's State House in Entebbe, a town close to Kampala on the shores of Lake Victoria, where the rebels had been expected to formalise the end of their rebellion in writing.

Kinshasa backed out

International observers, including from the United Nations and African Union, as well as from Belgium, Britain, France and Norway, also turned up to witness the deal, Opondo said.

With Kinshasa backing out, it is not immediately certain what will happen next.

However, the M23, a mainly ethnic-Tutsi force of mutineers from the Congolese army, have no military leverage left and little room for manoeuvre.

Lack of deal a disappointment

A key outstanding issue is the fate of about 1 500 M23 fighters who have crossed into Uganda and are languishing in camps along the border. Uganda has refused to hand them over to the DR Congo.

Around 100 more injured rebels have crossed to Rwanda.

Mende had said earlier the rebels would be dealt with "case by case". Many rank-and-file fighters were expected to be given the option to return to the Congolese army.

More complicated is the fate of some 100 M23 commanders. These include M23 leader Sultani Makenga, accused of participating in several massacres, mutilations, abductions and sexual violence, sometimes against children.

The failure - for now, at least - to sign a deal will disappoint many. The UN special envoy to the Great Lakes, Mary Robinson, told AFP that signing the accord would be "a very important step for peace".

Brutal war

She said after defeating M23, operations would follow to neutralise other rebel groups in a concerted effort to end one of Africa's most brutal and longest-running wars.

But even if a deal is signed, stabilising eastern DR Congo will not be easy. Previous peace deals for the region have foundered because they were not implemented or did not address underlying problems.

Oxfam on Monday warned the "conflict is far from over", noting over 30 other armed groups operate in the region and civilians risk violence on a daily basis.

Human Rights Watch last week warned "numerous challenges remain", noting eastern DRC "has been beleaguered by abuses by other armed groups, as well as by the Congolese army."

Robinson said she believed Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni - who deny backing the M23 - were committed to an 11-nation regional peace agreement signed in February.

She said the priority would now shift to defeating the DR Congo-based Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a descendant of Hutu extremist groups that carried out the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Rwanda's minority Tutsi-led government views the FDLR as a major security threat. Dealing with the group is seen as crucial to addressing the neighbouring country's concerns and preventing the emergence of yet another Rwandan-backed proxy.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...