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November 04, 2013

DRC Wants Rebellion's End, Not Cease-Fire

by VOA News

The Democratic Republic of Congo's government says a call for a cease-fire by M23 rebels does not go far enough, and is demanding the group end its revolt.

M23 leader Bertrand Bisimwa said on Sunday after his fighters were pushed from one of their last remaining strongholds that he wanted the cease-fire to allow stalled peace talks with the government to go forward.

Congolese Information Minister Lambert Mende told VOA that the rebels must commit to a series of steps to fully demobilize, not just enact a cease-fire.

He added that with the army's recent gains, he expects the fighting will be over in a matter of days.

The rebels consist of fighters who joined the Congolese army in a 2009 peace deal, but later defected after complaining of poor treatment. Last November, they captured several cities in the country's mineral-rich east.

Bisimwa told VOA the rebels are fighting for "security."

"We know that this part of Congo, the eastern part of Congo, there are many, many groups, foreign groups, who are killing, who are raping, and we can't continue to accept this," said Bisimwa.

He said the people living in the area have "suffered for a long time," and that M23 is fighting to build roads, hospitals and schools and give locals an opportunity to get jobs.

The United Nations has pressed the two sides to agree to a peace deal as part of efforts to stabilize the eastern DRC. However, negotiators said the talks broke down last month with the parties divided over a proposed amnesty for the rebels.