News / Africa

Purported Draft of Congo-M23 Agreement Leaked

New president of the M23 rebel movement, Bertrand Bisimwa (in orange tie) shakes hands with M23 military commander Sultani Makenga, in Bunagana in eastern DRC, March 7, 2013. (N. Long/VOA)
New president of the M23 rebel movement, Bertrand Bisimwa (in orange tie) shakes hands with M23 military commander Sultani Makenga, in Bunagana in eastern DRC, March 7, 2013. (N. Long/VOA)
Nick Long
The text of a proposed peace agreement between the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC's) government and rebel group M23 has apparently been leaked to the media.  The rebels, who took over parts of eastern Congo last year, were scheduled to sign an agreement earlier this month but didn't. 

VOA obtained the purported text of the agreement Wednesday, a few days after it began circulating in political circles in the DRC capital, Kinshasa.

The document has 12 articles, including a pledge by the rebel group to lay down their arms, and a promise by the government to give amnesty to M23 members not guilty of war crimes and to integrate their fighters into the government army.

The draft says integration of M23 officers will not be automatic but considered on a case by case basis.  It also commits the government to help Congolese refugees return home, to set up reconciliation committees and to decentralize power.

Analyst Maria Lange, who’s the director of the NGO International Alert’s program in DRC, thinks the document is genuine.

"It certainly looks like a genuine draft," she said. "Lambert Mende, the communications minister, publicly announced that an agreement would be signed on March 15, and given that this document is dated March 15 I would assume that this is the text the Congolese government drew up for signature on March 15 but which was not signed by M23."

The government has not said if this is a genuine draft.  But analyst Thierry Vircoulon of the International Crisis Group agrees with Lange that it probably is.

FILE - Indicted war criminal Bosco Ntaganda poses for a photograph during an interview with Reuters in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, October 5, 2010.FILE - Indicted war criminal Bosco Ntaganda poses for a photograph during an interview with Reuters in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, October 5, 2010.
x
FILE - Indicted war criminal Bosco Ntaganda poses for a photograph during an interview with Reuters in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, October 5, 2010.
FILE - Indicted war criminal Bosco Ntaganda poses for a photograph during an interview with Reuters in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, October 5, 2010.
Both analysts say it’s not surprising the M23 didn’t sign it on March 15 as the rebels were fighting each other at the time.  That struggle is now over and the losing side has fled to Rwanda where its leader Bosco Ntaganda has turned himself in at the U.S. Embassy.

The civilian leader of M23's dominant faction, Bertrand Bisimwa, has told the media that the document is not binding on his group.

He also said he was surprised to see such a document as the parties to peace talks have not been meeting for a month and previously the mediator was only talking to the other M23 faction.

Vircoulon thinks the text meets most of the rebel group’s main demands.

He tells VOA that while the M23 might make further demands, this text deals with the main issues they have been raising in peace talks.

However, Maria Lange comments that the M23 may not be satisfied with the monitoring mechanism envisioned in the draft.

"It doesn’t provide any kind of monitoring framework outside the U.N. peace framework that was signed on February 24.  But that peace framework is at a regional level between states in the region and makes no mention of M23," said Lange.

The text also talks about setting up a community police force.  Vircoulon suggests that some M23 combatants might join this force, to protect their communities, rather than joining the army and being posted away from their region.

But Lange comments that the community police force proposal is vague and the M23 will want stronger guarantees of protection for communities that supported them.

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid