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December 09, 2012

DR Congo Government, Rebels Start Peace Talks

by VOA News

Peace talks have started between rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Congolese government officials.

Sunday's negotiations, in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, got off to a tense start with M23 rebel representative Francois Ruchongoza blaming the country's conflict on poor governance.

Congo Foreign Affairs Minister Raymond Tshibanda, who is representing the government, protested the remarks.

M23 withdrew from the Congolese city of Goma last week, but has threatened to retake the city if the government fails to begin negotiations.

The rebels defeated the Congolese army in a series of battles this year.

A panel of United Nations experts has accused Uganda and Rwanda of supporting the group, something that both countries have denied.

M23 is made up of former rebels who were integrated into the Congolese army in a 2009 peace agreement.  The rebels deserted the army earlier this year, complaining of discrimination and poor treatment.

The fighting has displaced more than 100,000 people in Congo's North Kivu province, aggravating an already serious humanitarian situation in the region.