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US welcomes end of DRC's M23 rebellion

06 November 2013, 07:01

Washington - The United States on Tuesday hailed the surrender of rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo's powder keg east.

"The United States welcomes the announcement that M23 will end its rebellion," deputy State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said, as she also commended "the DRC government's positive response" and its willingness to sign a final agreement.

The M23 surrendered after a crushing United Nations-backed offensive ended their 18-month insurgency in a region that has seen some of Africa's deadliest conflicts.

"We encourage the parties to follow through on a political process that leads to a final agreement that provides for disarming and demobilizing M23 and ensures accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity," Harf said.

"Reaching a negotiated end to the rebellion is a critical first step to ending the instability in the DRC."

A statement by the M23 that it would "end its rebellion" and instead pursue its goals "through purely political means" came after 200 or so holdout rebels were routed from their hilltop positions overnight.

Broader dialogue

The army launched a major offensive on 25 October, steadily claiming the main rebel-held towns until diehard M23 fighters were forced to hole up on three hills about 80km north of the regional capital Goma and near the Rwandan border.

The insurgents - who at their strongest occupied Goma for 10 days a year ago - called for a truce on Sunday, but the army pressed on with its assault.

The UN special force in the region - which so far had been assisting with aerial reconnaissance, intelligence and planning - joined direct combat late on Monday after getting the green light to bombard the hilltops.

Washington also urged regional states to initiate "a broader dialogue focused on implementing the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework Agreement, addressing the root causes of chronic instability in the DRC and the Great Lakes, and expanding regional economic development", Harf said.

"The United States will continue to support these and other regional and international efforts to reach a sustainable and durable peace," she said.

The M23 was launched in April 2012 by ex-rebels who had been integrated into the regular army after an earlier peace deal but mutinied again, claiming that Kinshasa was failing to keep its side of the bargain.



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