Kabila team to meet M23 rebels
05 December 2012, 16:51
Goma - Rebels in Democratic Republic of Congo will hold peace talks with government officials in Uganda, officials said Tuesday in Goma, the key mining hub that the rebels seized before pulling out.
Negotiations will begin “in the next few days in Kampala,” Interior Minister Richard Muyej Mangez said, a day after soldiers returned to the strategic eastern city, the capital of the resource-rich North Kivu province.
M23’s political leader Jean-Marie Runiga said the rebels “were ready” for talks, which are expected to include a raft of potential rebel demands, including major political reform for the war-weary region.
The rebels’ lightning capture of Goma on November 20, eight months after the army mutineers launched an uprising against the government, had sparked fears of a wider war and major humanitarian crisis.
Their withdrawal was widely welcomed, although rebels still remain close to the city, and have not yet pulled back the full 20 kilometres agreed in a regionally brokered deal.
Mangez said the government would send a “full team” including leaders of key institutions, civil society leaders as well as members of the national assembly and senate.
However, it is not expected that President Joseph Kabila — who the rebels have demanded step from power — would attend initial negotiations.
Dozens of government army trucks crammed with heavily armed soldiers entered the regional capital on Monday to secure the city of a million people and reassert their authority after 12 days of rebel rule.