News / Africa

DRC Government Rejects 'Unconstitutional' Rebel Demands

Roger Lumbala (R), a former member of parliament in the Democratic Republic of Congo who joined the M23 rebel group, chats with colleagues shortly after attending a peace talk meeting in Uganda's capital Kampala, January 11, 2013.Roger Lumbala (R), a former member of parliament in the Democratic Republic of Congo who joined the M23 rebel group, chats with colleagues shortly after attending a peace talk meeting in Uganda's capital Kampala, January 11, 2013.
x
Roger Lumbala (R), a former member of parliament in the Democratic Republic of Congo who joined the M23 rebel group, chats with colleagues shortly after attending a peace talk meeting in Uganda's capital Kampala, January 11, 2013.
Roger Lumbala (R), a former member of parliament in the Democratic Republic of Congo who joined the M23 rebel group, chats with colleagues shortly after attending a peace talk meeting in Uganda's capital Kampala, January 11, 2013.
Nick Long
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s government has ruled out what it calls ‘unconstitutional’ demands presented by the M23 rebels at talks in Kampala, Uganda.
   
The M23 rebellion started out last April as a mutiny by a few hundred soldiers in Congo’s North Kivu province who were calling for the full implementation of a peace agreement signed on March 23, 2009.
 
This week in Kampala the rebels tabled a much broader list of proposals.
 
Among other things, they are now calling for the formation of a transitional government, for the results of elections in 2011 to be scrapped, for the resignation of all provincial governors, provincial parliament and senate members, and for the introduction of a federal system of government.

Standing pat

In response, the DRC government issued a 40-page document on Thursday rejecting the rebels' demands, many of which it described as 'unconstitutional,' and defending its implementation of the 2009 agreement. It says this process is ongoing because of financial and security problems, which the M23 has worsened.
 
The response acknowledges irregularities in the 2011 elections, but says that no dissolution of provincial or national institutions can be envisioned.
 
The main civil society group in North Kivu province has echoed the government’s position. The head of their group of experts is Djento Maundu, who told VOA that the talks should only be about the implementation of the March 23 agreement, and the return of property stolen by the rebels.
 
Nevertheless, the government did agree this week to an agenda for the talks that includes ‘political, social and economic questions,’ as well as the March 23 agreement and security questions.  
 
Main opposition joins fray

The DRC’s main opposition parties announced last weekend that they also want to be at the talks, having previously said they would boycott them.
 
Analyst Maria Lange, who is DRC program director for the NGO International Alert, said the political opposition should be there if the talks are going to involve questions of national politics. She is doubtful, however, about whether the opposition will be able to take part.
 
"For the moment the Congolese government and I believe the Ugandan facilitation is refusing to include them because it would largely complicate matters and make it more difficult to reach an agreement," said Lange. "M23 had initially welcomed the participation of the opposition, but is now expressing some reticence."  
 
Lange said all parties, including Rwanda, which continues to deny allegations that it has been supporting M23, want to prevent the crisis from spreading.
 
"There is an enlightened self-interest on the part of all parties to avoid this turning into a regional war. On and off hostilities in various parts of North Kivu certainly cannot be ruled out, but unless some unknown factor presents itself, I think the parties will really try to prevent this escalating out of control," said Lange.
 
The M23’s demands include giving their leaders the rank of generals in the Congolese army. Many observers think this is their key demand.
 
Nearly all of the M23 leaders were involved in a similar rebellion in 2009, which ended after the rebels were integrated into the army and given many senior ranks. Lange said the rebels could be integrated again, but the integration would need to be better planned than it was in 2009.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs