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DRC blames Uganda for failed peace talks

13 November 2013, 08:29

Kinshasa - The Congolese government delegation has quit Ugandan-hosted talks with M23 rebels, saying Kampala's support for insurgents was to blame for the failure to sign a document due to officially end the Democratic republic of Congo's latest rebellion.

Okello Oryem, Uganda's Junior Foreign Affairs Minister, did not immediately comment on the accusations, but said he expected it would take a few more days before any deal could be signed to end the most serious Congolese uprising in a decade.

DRC’s accusations against Uganda shows the deep mistrust in the region, a barrier standing in the way of long-term peace despite the defeat of the M23's 20-month insurgency by DRC's United Nations-backed army.

Congolese and rebel negotiators failed to agree on the wording of the document meant to cap the army's swift military gains that led to M23 last week abandoning its uprising in DRC’s mineral-rich border zone with Rwanda and Uganda.

"Uganda seems now to be acting as part of the conflict. It has interests in M23."

Uganda and Rwanda have both been accused by United Nations experts of backing M23, the latest in a series of uprisings led by Congolese Tutsi fighters in the east, which is rich in gold, diamonds and other minerals. Both countries deny the charges.

Bertrand Bisimwa, political head of the M23, was not immediately available for comment. Sultani Makenga, its military chief, is being held by Uganda after he abandoned the rebels' last hill-top positions with hundreds of fighters.

Political deal     

Despite the demise of M23, a plethora of other rebel groups operate in eastern DRC, which is also riddled with conflicts over land, ethnicity and access to resources.

Envoys from the United Nations, European Union, African Union and United States had gathered in Uganda to witness the signing.

After it fell through, they insisted on further talks to secure a political deal to accompany M23's military defeat.

Uganda's lead mediator, Defence Minister Chrispus Kiyonga, said both sides had concluded negotiations over the 11-point document on 3 November, two days before the rebels announced they were laying down their arms.

A second source close to the peace talks said the Kinshasa and M23 delegations had both initialled each page.

DRC’s President Joseph Kabila is keen to capitalise politically on his army's victory, the first over a major rebellion in the distant, lawless east.

A Ugandan source close to the mediation said this was made clear during talks.

- Reuters


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