M23, Congo reduce peace talk delegations
Posted Friday, February 15 2013 at 02:00
Observers are, however, worried that the reduction could be a sign that the talks are falling apart.
After signing their first agreement last week, the Congolese government and M23 rebels have reduced the size of their delegations to the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).
“Consultations are ongoing and both delegations have been reduced to 12,” Jean Baptiste Rudaseswa Gasominari, the rebels’ legal advisor said on telephone yesterday.
The delegations previously consisted of 30 members. Mr Fred Opolot, the executive director of the Uganda Media Centre, confirmed the development and said the specialised committee for the second phase of the peace talks does not require large numbers.
He added that financial constraints were also a deciding factor in the reduction. The M23-DRC peace talks are being held at Speke Resort in Munyonyo, entirely funded by the Congolese government.
Last week, the government and M23 signed an agreement that reviewed the March 23, 2009 agreement between the DRC government and the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP).
The M23 began their rebel activities in April last year when the former CNDP leaders accused Kinshasa of violating the agreement. Although the peace talks began in December last year, they have been dragging amid blame games from both parties for the delays.
Mr Jean-Charles Okoto Lolakombe, the Congolese Ambassador to Uganda, said: “If it was only depending on the DRC, the dialogue would be finished by now. But this dialogue is a process. It’s not a meeting between friends.”
The mediator of the peace talks, Dr Crispus Kiyonga, also the Ugandan Defence minister, could not be reached for comment but Mr Opolot said “there has certainly been progress. The facilitator continues to meet leaders of both parties.”