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UN presses for rapid peace deal in DRC

21 October 2013, 15:13

Kinshasa - The United Nations pressed on Monday for progress in efforts to bring peace to the Democratic Republic of Congo, amid signs that talks between the government and rebels were heading towards failure.

The UN special envoys overseeing the faltering peace negotiations in the Ugandan capital Kampala voiced concerns at the lack of a comprehensive deal that would lead to the demobilisation of the M23 rebels fighting in the chronically unstable east of the country.

"The envoys are concerned at the volatility in the region and hope that additional progress on the significant remaining issues can be made in the coming days," they said in a statement.

"The envoys further warn against any acts of provocation and urge the parties to exert maximum restraint on the ground in order for the dialogue to conclude."

But a senior Congolese government official in Kampala warned Sunday that the negotiations were "heading slowly but surely towards failure".

The official accused the M23 -- which last week spoke of progress in the talks - of making new demands while the Kinshasa government was making concessions.

The main bone of contention in the negotiations, which resumed in September under pressure from regional African leaders, is the question of amnesty for the rebels and their incorporation into the regular army.

"The envoys are concerned that the opportunity has not yet been seized to come to terms on a comprehensive agreement that would lead to the demobilisation of the M23," the UN statement said, nevertheless commending the "good faith efforts" of the Kinshasa government to reach a deal.

Latest rebellion

"The envoys strongly urge the M23 to cease immediately all forms of violence and destabilising activities and that its members immediately and permanently disband and lay down their arms in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2098."

The M23 controls an area of around 700 square kilometres in the mineral-rich but conflict-prone east of the DRC that borders Rwanda and Uganda.

The group was founded by former Tutsi rebels who were incorporated into the Congolese army under a 2009 peace deal.

Complaining the deal was never fully implemented, they mutinied in April 2012, turning their guns on their former comrades and launching the latest rebellion to ravage the east.

The United Nations regularly accuses Rwanda and Uganda of supporting the M23, something both countries deny.

A heavily-armed 3 000-strong UN intervention brigade joined 17 000 peacekeepers already deployed with a mission to carry out offensive operations against the rebel fighters, who are accused of human rights abuses including rape, murder and recruiting child soldiers.



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