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DRC Open to Talks With Armed Groups

  • Peter Clottey

DRC Communication minister and government spokesman, Lambert Mende (file photo)

DRC Communication minister and government spokesman, Lambert Mende (file photo)

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s information minister says the government in Kinshasa is not opposed to holding talks with armed groups to resolve conflicts in the restive parts of the Central African nation.

“The DRC has no problem with trying to resolve conflict with dialogue [and] that is why we have set meetings with M23, though they are negative forces,” said information minister Lambert Mende. “But, we know that we need to talk to them so that we can cut the linkage between them and their masters outside the country.”

Mende’s comments came after regional leaders called for dialogue and cooperation as part of an effort to deal with the security crisis in the Great Lakes Region. The leaders who met at a two-day summit in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, outlined steps to resolve conflict in the region.

The information minister denied that talks in neighboring Uganda between his government and representatives of the M23 rebels had broken down.

The M23 rebel group has accused the government of not being committed to the Kampala talks to end the conflict in the northern part of the country. But, Mende disagreed, calling the accusation part of the negotiating process.

“These are negotiation postures. People say things so they can push their agendas. We are negotiating definitely -- nobody can say that the Congolese government refuses to negotiate,” said Mende.

The DRC and the United Nations have accused Uganda and Rwanda of supporting armed groups that often fight the Congolese national army. But both Uganda and Rwanda have denied the accusation.

Mende says there is need for the neighboring countries to stop meddling in his country’s internal affairs.

“This might jeopardize all endeavors that are being made to have peace and security in the region,” said Mende. “We think that pressure must be put on our Rwandese counterparts so that they cool down…”

Mende says the government is pleased with the new mandate of the United Nations Mission (MONUSCO). However, he acknowledged that some Congolese often attacked by the armed groups are frustrated with the U.N. peacekeepers because they want MONUSCO to quickly end the rebellion.

“We are satisfied with the deployment of the U.N. international brigade. We are witnessing the good will on their part. They are assisting us; they are cooperating with us, and they are protecting civilians [and] we are happy with that,” said Mende.

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