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M23 concerned over supervised disarmament under Congolese army

October 10, 2013 (KAMPALA) - The defeated Congolese rebel group, M23, has written to Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni expressing concern about disarming and demobilising under the supervision of their erstwhile opponents, the Congolese army((FARDC)

The M23 was last week defeated by the Congolese army supported by a United Nations brigade comprising of soldiers from South Africa, Tanzania and Malawi.

Shortly after the defeat, the rebels announced they were abandoning their 20 month old rebellion and that they were willing to disarm, demobilise and integrate into the Congolese army.

The rebels’ Commander Sultani Makenge and about 1,600 M23 fighters crossed into Uganda from the DRC last week.

‘‘These ex-combatants say that they feel insecure by a process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration under the supervision of the same forces that fought them while refusing any proposal to cease fire for more than a year,’’ said the M23 Chairman, Bertrand Bisiwa in a letter he wrote to Museveni on Thursday last week.

The rebels wrote to President Museveni in his capacity as the mediator of the peace talks between them and the DRC government.

‘‘We remain hopeful that the concerns of these ex-combatants will find a response that can ensure the smooth process of disarmament, demobilization and social reintegration which they wish to submit themselves,’’ Bisiwa said in his letter.

Makenge is wanted by the DRC government for war crimes but Uganda has said it will not hand over the rebel commander as that will be determined by the outcome of a peace deal that the rebels and the DRC government are expected to sign.

Last week leaders from the Great Lakes and their Southern African counterparts called on the rebels to sign a peace agreement with the DRC government.

The rebels and the DRC government were negotiating in the Ugandan capital Kampala before the talks collapsed and resulted into the renewed conflict in eastern Congo.

With the rebels defeated, the DRC government has been bullish and even reluctant to sign a peace deal saying the rebel group no longer existed since it had dissolved itself.

A United Nations group of experts and the DRC government accused Rwanda and Uganda of supporting the rebels something analysts say has made the Congo government suspicious of the Kampala peace talks under Museveni’s mediation. Uganda and Rwanda have denied the accusations.

(ST)