Saturday May 3 2014

Kabila signs amnesty for M23 rebels


Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) president Joseph Kabila has signed into law an amnesty Bill that will see some M23 rebels given amnesty and reintegrated into the national army, Uganda’s Foreign Affairs ministry said yesterday.

The Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary, Mr James Mugume, said with the amnesty law in place, the Congolese government will start implementing the reintegration of the rebels who have been living in Uganda after they were defeated and pushed out of the DRC by UN forces.
“The process to identify those who will get amnesty and others to be integrated into the national army is going to start,” Mr Mugume said.
The enactment of the amnesty law is the culmination of the Nairobi agreement signed in November between the Kinshasa government and the rebels to end hostilities that displaced thousands of people last year. Uganda mediated the talks between the warring parties.

But the former leader of the M23 negotiation team, Mr Rene Abandi, said signing of the amnesty would not address the concerns of the M23.
“It (amnesty) doesn’t solve the concerns raised in the Nairobi agreement. The issues we have been talking about are; the need to return assets of the Congolese people that were confiscated, stop discrimination against Congolese in eastern part of the country and return of refugees who are scattered in the neighbouring countries,” Mr Abandi said.

The M23 group has been accusing the DRC government of discriminating the Kinyarwanda speaking Congolese, an allegation Kinshasa has denied.
The first recipients of amnesty, according to government sources are 51 people, including M23 officials that attended the peace negotiations with the DRC government in Kampala last year.

It is not clear whether Gen Sultan Makenga, the leader of the military wing, will be given amnesty following the international community insistence that those who committed atrocities during the war should be tried.