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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid