M23 rebels still a big problem to Uganda, says Kuteesa

Uganda's Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kuteesa

M23 rebels who once waged an armed struggle against the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) before signing a peace agreement, still pose a big challenge to Uganda, Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Sam Kuteesa has said.

Mr Kuteesa says the M23 rebels have become a problem to Uganda since they are neither refugees nor prisoners in the country.

 In January, Kinshasa protested after learning that hundreds of M23 rebels led by Gen Sultan Makenga had escaped from Uganda and returned to their bases in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Kampala later reported that it had arrested and imprisoned 101 M23 rebels who were trying to enter DRC.

Mr Kuteesa says DRC hasn't implemented the terms of the 2013 Nairobi peace Accord nearly four years after its signing, adding that there is still time for them to honour their obligations and end the M23 question.

Mr Kuteesa was responding to questions on Tuesday during a lecture on Uganda's foreign landscape at Hotel Africana.

In 2013, M23 rebels signed a ceasefire agreement with the DRC government that facilitated by Uganda in Nairobi.

According to the accord, the rebels were supposed to transform their group into a legitimate political party.

The DRC government was supposed to integrate some fighters into the national army and help others return to civilian life.

However, some of the fighters were pushed into Uganda and are currently residing in Bihanga Military Training School.

The lecture was attended by a number of diplomats who included among others; the US Ambassador, Ms Deborah Melac, the French ambassador, Ms Stephanie Rivoal, and British High Commissioner to Uganda, Mr Peter West among others.

The March 23 Movement often abbreviated as M23 and also known as the Congolese Revolutionary was started in March 2012 and  waged an armed struggled against Kinshasa for nearly 20 months until it signed a peace agreement in  December 2013 in Nairobi.

The rebel group was based in the east of the country mainly in North Kivu Province.