Congolese government to sign peace treaty with rebels

Nov. 8, 2013 at 2:21 PM
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KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- The Congolese government has agreed to sign a peace treaty with defeated M23 rebels, Ugandan officials said Friday.

The treaty, which has already been drafted and is scheduled to be signed by both parties on Monday, was created in an effort to end a violent conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo's eastern regions, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Peace talks between the Congolese government and the rebels have been mediated by Uganda.

"The surrender of M23 rebels and their commanders to Uganda sets stage for the conclusion of the peace process," said Ofwono Opondo, the Ugandan government spokesman.

Top rebel commander Sultani Makenda, along with 1,700 rebel fighters, surrendered to the Ugandan military earlier this week after fleeing an attack from the Congolese military. The surrender brought an end to the 20-month long insurgency in Eastern Congo.

The two sides almost reached a peace deal in October, but negotiations broke down after the Congolese government refused to agree to a blanket amnesty for rebel fighters. The government has also failed to meet several deadlines and timelines to sign a peace deal with the rebels due to mutual mistrust and suspicion.

Now, the government is "ready" to sign a peace treaty with M23, Francois Muamba, a member of the Congolese negotiating delegation, said on U.N.-sponsored radio Okapi.

M23 rebel spokesman Amani Kabasha said the deal is based on "terms agreed in recent weeks."

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