News / Africa

Despite Progress, Congo Peace Talks Stall

M23 rebel negotiators are seen heading into the final leg of negotiations with the Congolese government, in Kampala, Oct. 19, 2013. M23 rebel negotiators are seen heading into the final leg of negotiations with the Congolese government, in Kampala, Oct. 19, 2013.
x
M23 rebel negotiators are seen heading into the final leg of negotiations with the Congolese government, in Kampala, Oct. 19, 2013.
M23 rebel negotiators are seen heading into the final leg of negotiations with the Congolese government, in Kampala, Oct. 19, 2013.
Margaret Besheer
— The U.N.’s top diplomat in the Democratic Republic of Congo says talks between that country's government and M23 rebels have stalled after making some progress.

Martin Koebler warned Monday that despite the talks, U.N. peacekeepers have observed the M23 reinforcing its positions in the eastern Congo.

Limited agreement

After four days and nights of negotiations between the DRC and M23 in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, Koebler said the talks ended with agreement on eight out of 11 issues.

“I consider that the remaining gaps can be bridged," he said. "That is why it is all the more regrettable that this unique opportunity could not be seized to come to an overall deal.”

He urged the parties, particularly the M23, to seize the momentum and resolve outstanding issues in the coming days.

M23 was formed last April by about 300 former members of the CNDP rebel group who had joined the army following a March 23, 2009 peace agreement. The rebels-turned-soldiers decided to become rebels again, saying the government had failed to fulfill that agreement and was treating them poorly.

In November, M23 seized and briefly held the provincial capital of Goma in North Kivu.

Volatile situation

Briefing the U.N. Security Council via a videolink from Uganda, Koebler also warned that the situation on the ground in Congo's North Kivu province remains volatile.

He said in recent days, U.N. peacekeepers have observed a “considerable military build-up” on both sides of the frontline. He said the mission also has information that M23 has strengthened its frontline position near Goma.

The rebels have fired twice at U.N. helicopters and have strengthened offensive positions threatening peacekeepers.

“However, for the sake of safeguarding an environment conducive for a negotiated settlement, I decided not to retaliate according to the rules of engagement," Koebler said.
 
Koebler also highlighted threats from other rebel groups, including the FDLR and the Allied Democratic Forces and the continued recruitment of child soldiers.  Koebler said nearly 1,000 cases of children being recruited by rebel groups was documented between January 2012 and this August.

He underscored the problem of foreign interference, saying the U.N. has interviewed some 200 surrendering combatants who testified that they were recruited on Ugandan, but mainly Rwandan, territory.

“This, and other kinds of external involvement, must stop,” Koebler said.

Both Uganda and Rwanda have denied allegations they support M23.

Outstanding issues

The U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Mary Robinson, spoke to the council via a video link from Addis Ababa. 

She said among the items the government and rebels agreed on in Kampala include the release of prisoners; the end of M23 as a rebel movement and the possibility of it re-establishing itself as a political party; the return and resettlement of refugees and displaced persons; and the establishment of a National Reconciliation Commission.

She also outlined the outstanding issues between the parties.

“While the parties have made progress in the negotiations, they have not been able to reach an agreement on the issues of amnesty, integration, disengagement and security arrangements," Robinson said. "They have agreed to reconvene soon in order to overcome their differences.”

On the amnesty issue, she said the current draft grants amnesty and integration to all members of M23, except those indicted for war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, gross violations of human rights, sexual violence, and the recruitment of child soldiers.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: MFITUNDINDA JAMES from: KAMPALA
October 23, 2013 11:42 AM
our people are suffering because of m23 they should be punished

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid