Rebels slowly leave Goma, D.R. Congo

Nov. 30, 2012 at 5:16 PM

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo are slowly withdrawing from territory around the city of Goma, facilitating political negotiations, they said.

The group, known as M23, said it is pulling back to allow for negotiations with the government, part of an agreement Congolese President Joseph Kabila arranged in a meeting in Uganda last week, the Voice of America reported Thursday.

M23 rebels are deserters from the Congolese army and are believed to be financed by the government of neighboring Rwanda. Rwandan officials deny the connection, the BBC said Thursday.

Manodje Munubai, spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping force of 19,000 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, said the rebels were scheduled to leave Goma by Thursday, but the deadline keeps shifting.

"They've been experiencing logistic difficulties. They didn't say anything more than that," Munubai said.

The Uganda accord stipulates the rebels are to pull back from Goma, allowing a 12.5-mile buffer zone and will leave 100 soldiers to help guard the airport with 100 Congolese soldiers and 100 U.N. peacekeepers, the BBC said.

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