October 21, 2013 (KAMPALA)- Peace talks between the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC) and the M23 rebels has been suspended over disagreements on amnesty for the rebels.
"There is total disagreement on the general and unconditional amnesty proposed by the Ugandan facilitator, which is absolutely opposed to our position," Congolese government spokesman Lambert Mende said on Monday.
The latest round of peace talks between the M23 rebels and the DRC government began in September after an order from leaders of the Great Lakes that the two sides go to the round table in Kampala with Uganda as mediator.
Over the weekend the leader of the M23 was widely quoted in the media as saying that a ‘‘major breakthrough’’ in the peace talks was about to me made, something he attributed to the involvement of the international community.
The Head of the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in DR Congo (MONUSCO), Martin Kobler, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes, Mary Robinson and envoys from the European Union (EU) and the United States have been observing the peace talks in Kampala.
Additionally, a 3,000 strong UN intervention brigade with a mandate to use force has been deployed in DRC. The force has fought the M23 rebels alongside the Congolese national army.
In September Robinson urged the warring sides in the conflict to work towards peace and normalisation of the situation in eastern DRC
But that for now looks unlikely with Lambert Mende, the DRC government spokesman saying the position of the rebels was not agreeable.
‘‘M23 are now insisting on unconditional amnesty and reintegration, having earlier said they weren’t interested in integration at all. They keep changing their position," Mende said.
The M23 is largely made up of Tutsi rebels who were previously part of the Congolese army, but mutinied in April 2012 when they accused the DRC government of not respecting a 2009 peace deal.
Rwanda has been accused by the United Nations group of experts and the DRC government of supporting the rebels but Kigali denies the accusations.