News / Africa

    Congo Government, Rebel M23 'Chat' in Public

    DRC Foreign Minister Raymond Tshibanda (L) and M23 Spokesman Rene Abandi discuss the situation, at DRC peace talks in Kampala, Uganda, Sept. 17. (VOA/A. Hall)DRC Foreign Minister Raymond Tshibanda (L) and M23 Spokesman Rene Abandi discuss the situation, at DRC peace talks in Kampala, Uganda, Sept. 17. (VOA/A. Hall)
    x
    DRC Foreign Minister Raymond Tshibanda (L) and M23 Spokesman Rene Abandi discuss the situation, at DRC peace talks in Kampala, Uganda, Sept. 17. (VOA/A. Hall)
    DRC Foreign Minister Raymond Tshibanda (L) and M23 Spokesman Rene Abandi discuss the situation, at DRC peace talks in Kampala, Uganda, Sept. 17. (VOA/A. Hall)
    Nick Long
    Negotiators at peace talks between the Democratic Republic of Congo's government and the M23 rebel movement have three days left before a deadline set by regional leaders for wrapping up the talks. On Monday, the government delegation will be flying to the U.N. General Assembly in New York, and there's hope they may be able to report some kind of progress - although a complete peace deal in the next few days appears to be unlikely.

    Since the opening session of these talks last December, all the negotiating has been behind closed doors. The media have caught hardly a glimpse of the two sides actually speaking to each other.
     
    Before a session on Tuesday, though, the lead negotiators, DRC Foreign Minister Raymond Tshibanda and M23 spokesman Rene Abandi, stood on the lawn outside the conference center and had a conversation lasting about 15 minutes, in front of cameras.

    Constructive conversation

    Security kept journalists back just out of earshot. Clearly both men, however, wanted to convey the message that constructive negotiations are going on here: Tshibanda did most of the talking, gesturing expansively and looking relaxed, while the rebel Abandi, a younger man, listened respectfully.
     
    Ugandan journalist Samson Ntale said he thinks this scene has significance. “It’s the first time we saw them in a chat, lasting several minutes. I don’t know whether they were just acting for the media. But if we are to read from the body language, that’s an indication they are heading to a truce,” he said.
     
    Speaking to VOA this week, the spokesman for the government delegation, Francois Muamba, said they hadn’t made any progress at the talks recently. The M23’s Abandi said they haven’t agreed on anything recently that he could reveal. Both men warned there soon could be more fighting.
     
    But the talks' facilitator, Ugandan Defense Minister Crispus Kiyonga, gave a more upbeat assessment.

    “My reading as the facilitator is that the government and the M23 are still strongly interested and committed to the talks. My expectation is that we shall conclude the dialogue soon,” he said.

    Kiyonga also unveiled the priority issues on the agenda. Most of them are the same issues they’ve been discussing for months. Two items not mentioned, though, were amnesty for M23 members and integration of their troops in the Congolese army.

    Possible solutions
     
    The month the DRC government said it would consider amnesty for M23 members except those suspected of war crimes, rape and pillage. The M23 said they were not too concerned about the amnesty issue and most of their fighters would not want to join, or rejoin, the Congolese army.

    Other issues, including the future of the Congo-based Rwandan rebel group FDLR, and the future of Congolese refugees in Rwanda - mostly ethnic Tutsis - could be sticking points, said Aaron Hall, analyst for the human rights organization the Enough Project.
     
    “Just recently we heard from the M23 that they would agree to disarm and demobilize if the Congolese government were to address the outstanding issues of disbanding the FDLR and commit to right of return for Congolese refugee populations in Rwanda, two very difficult issues to solve,” said Hall.

    The DRC-M23 conflict flared up last year, after a group of former rebels-turned-soldiers left the army, complaining of poor treatment. M23 later seized territory in Congo's North Kivu province. The sides recently clashed again, as the rebels continue to hold areas north of the provincial capital, Goma.

    Several observers said they expect pressure to build at the U.N. General Assembly for the DRC peace talks to be broadened to include other states in the region including Rwanda.
     
    U.N. experts have reported that Rwanda has been supporting the M23, an accusation consistently and strongly denied in capital city Kigali.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Jean Kiboko from: Goma
    September 22, 2013 8:23 AM
    The wars in Kivu will never stop until DR Congo has a legitimate leader and not a puppet supported by external forces. Dominique de Villepin and Paul Dijoud from France are the one who imported Rwanda's wars into Congo. They sleep peacefully while eastern Congo is in bleeding. George Tenet, then CIA interim boss warned Mobutu- DRC and Mkapa, Tanzania of the risks, but the two frenchmen were more persuading to Mobutu. The rest is history. DRC bled, Tanzania stayed peaceful. Give France a piece of Great Lakes cake and for its interests will support lasting peace. Already General Hullet of France has ruled out attacking FDLR its only reliable support in region, after M23.

    by: Hans Walter from: Hanover
    September 20, 2013 10:52 AM
    The Japs manufacture Toyota cars, cubans are known for their Cigars Rwandan Extremist Tutsis have nothing to export, their only
    manufacture lies and can't be taken seriously.all kagame has for sale is genocidal bones:leftovers of killings he has personally inflicted on the people of Rwanda, Thus he is only been exporting genocide and war to congo an to the region. The only true negotiation that would ensure lasting peace is THE REMOVAL OF GENOCIE SUSPECT PAUL KAGAME.

    by: GetOut from: Rutshuru, Congo
    September 19, 2013 3:17 PM
    Until Kagame and Museveni decide that it is not worth it to fight in Congo to get a piece of it all these "talks" are a waste of time, as Kagame and his protector Museveni can just turn around and start another rebel group or send the Rwandan Army in open in Congo...These talks are not serious and will lead nowhere, if anyone need to negotiate it should be Kagame and Museveni on one side and the Congolese government and their allies on the other side...I am glad the Congolese government seems to understand Kagame not so subtle game now....

    by: Anonymous
    September 19, 2013 2:16 PM
    "Several observers said they expect pressure to build at the U.N. General Assembly for the DRC peace talks to be broadened to include other states in the region including Rwanda."
    If Rwanda has issues, those should be settled or discussed separately. DRC governance is for DRC and her population. Allowing Rwanda to come with its Agenda to meetins for DRC peace will be a huge and very naive mistake. It is like discussing Iran issues in Syria peace talks or trying to solve the Palestine issues in the Syria peace talks, that cannot work. Rwanda will cause as much difficulty as possible using excuse of FLDR -Hutu rebels. That is an issue that can be discussed between DRC and Rwanda with help on UN later. Any attacks of Rwanda on DRC must not be tolerated no matter the excuse. USA did not attack Russia over Snowden. It is true though US violated Pakistan air space to kill Bid laden , but that caused a lot of problems to this day.
    So Rwanda must stay out of DRC affairs outside UN ,AU or legitimate international fora and not be allowed to mix up issues to promote their own agendas.

    by: Anonymous
    September 19, 2013 2:05 PM
    Those are the jokes in Kampala, there are no talks there. What is going on is Uganda and Rwanda regimes trying to dupe the international community that somehow their rebels are genuine about peace. Judging by the track record of Rwanda and Uganda regimes, that is wishful thinking. DRC/SADC had better wake up and train a strong army. The incentive for plunder is a weak DRC army and poor governance and lack of development in DRC. That is why you see a lot of frogs in DRC East, as the saying goes, when the head of home is absent, frogs flock to the home. The M23 is rooted in the belligerence of the two autocrats regimes in the region. For their tp be peace, Uganda and Rwanda also to rid themselves of backward leaders that only think of war and militias and plunder.
    UN/SADC /DRC will be extremely naive indeed to stake most of its faith , hope or plans in the Kampala jokes.
    In Response

    by: Punza from: Bunagana
    September 19, 2013 3:22 PM
    I agree, these Kampala "talks" are a waste of money and time...if someone needs to negotiate it is the pathetic denier of Congo involvement Kagame with his buddy Museveni on one side and Congo and their allies (SADC,etc) on the other side. There is no point in spending money in Kampala hotels this way while people are dying and being displaced in the region...it is a disgrace...If Kagame and Museveni cannot negotiate and keep denying their involvement in Congo then only one option will be left for Congo and SADC: fight this war to the end, even if it means to bring it to Kagame and show Kagame his own absurdity

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora