Congo, M23 resume talks today
Posted Monday, January 7 2013 at 02:00
Both groups are currently divided over a ceasefire agreement.
The Congolese government and the M23 rebels will today resume talks in Kampala after two-week Christmas holiday to discuss the conflict in the eastern part of DR Congo that has left chundreds of thousands displaced.
The two delegations arrived in the country at the weekend and have been separately meeting the Defence minister, Dr Crispus Kiyonga, the chief facilitator.
“Both teams are already here. Today (yesterday), the facilitator met them separately and they have been caucusing in preparation for resumption of talks today,” Lt. Col Paddy Ankunda, the spokesperson of the talks, said.
Before breaking off, both sides had agreed on the agenda and the rules of procedure, but disagreed on the need to sign a ceasefire agreement.
The M23 movement wants signing of a ceasefire agreement but the Congolese delegation refused, saying they had no powers to discuss the ceasefire.
When asked whether the meeting will start with the need to sign ceasefire, Lt. Col. Ankunda said he would not want to speculate.
“It is the facilitator who knows those details,” he said
The rebels have threatened to pull out of talks if the Congolese government refuses to sign the ceasefire agreement.
“We cannot talk peace when one side is preparing for war. You cannot fight and talk peace at the same time,” one of rebels told Daily Monitor yesterday.
The UN slapped sanctions against the M23 last week, which include arms embargo and travel ban on its leader, Jean Marie Runiga.
Regional leaders have criticised the UN mission in Congo for failing to end the humanitarian crisis in the region, which has displaced more than 100,000 people.
It is the biggest UN peacekeeping mission in the world with a budget of $1.4billion annually and 19,000 forces.