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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries 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.
Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocidei
X
Elizabeth Lee
August 31, 2015 8:23 PM
Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the end of the civil war in Guatemala. During the conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed in what is known as the Guatemalan genocide. Researchers are now collecting video testimonies of the survivors to preserve the memories of what happened to prevent future genocides. Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the end of the civil war in Guatemala. During the conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed in what is known as the Guatemalan genocide. Researchers are now collecting video testimonies of the survivors to preserve the memories of what happened to prevent future genocides. Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
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