World News

Congo, M23 Fail to Sign Peace Deal

A Ugandan official says the Democratic Republic of Congo has called off the signing of a peace deal with rebel group M23.

The Congolese government and the rebels were scheduled to sign a document in the Ugandan town of Entebbe Monday. But Ugandan government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said in a Twitter message that the DRC delegation had, in his words, "aborted the signing."

Opondo told VOA the Congolese delegates refused to enter the room where the signing ceremony was to have taken place and asked for more time to read through the agreement.

One of the leaders of the M23 rebel group, Bertrand Bisimwa, told VOA that the dispute revolves around the fact that the government wants to call the deal a "declaration" while the rebels want to call it a "peace agreement."

"If the government of DRC wants the war, [it] doesn't need to sign anything with us. But if [they] want us to sign an agreement, we say that this document has to respect what we agreed [to] on November 4."

Envoys from the United Nations, African Union, Europe and the United States expressed regret that an agreement was not signed Monday. In a statement, the envoys said the two sides have not expressed any differences on substantive points within the draft document.

M23 said last week that it was laying down its arms, after the Congolese army seized the last of the group's strongholds in Congo's North Kivu province.

The group consists of fighters who joined the Congolese army in a 2009 peace deal but later defected after complaining of poor treatment.

Last week, officials said the sides were set to sign a peace deal that would lay out the process for demobilizing rebel fighters, with some likely to be re-integrated into the Congolese army.

M23 earlier had asked for amnesty for its leaders, while the Congolese government said it wants the leaders be returned to the DRC to stand trial. The issue was expected to be a serious stumbling block to a peace agreement. However it is not clear whether it contributed to Monday's delay.

Eastern Congo has been ravaged by years of fighting between the government and various rebel groups, who compete for control of the area's rich mines.

The Congolese army recently got the backing of a 3,000-soldier U.N. "intervention brigade," authorized to undertake offensive operations against the rebels.

Congo has accused neighboring Rwanda and Uganda of supporting M23, an allegation both countries deny.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs