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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs