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M23 rebel commander surrenders in Uganda

October 7, 2013 (KAMPALA) –A commander of the defeated Congolese rebel group, M23, has surrendered to Ugandan authorises, an Ugandan government source said on Thursday.

Sultani Makenga, a senior commander of the rebel group is said to have handed himself over to the Uganda authorises in western Uganda.

‘‘He is with our forces, yes, Makenga has crossed into Uganda with some of his men, he is with us," AFP quoted a Ugandan government source as saying.

Uganda’s Minister of state for International Affairs, Henry Okello Oryem said he had only heard about the news on the radio.

‘‘I heard about it over the news but I have not cross checked with the minister of defence,’’ Okello Oryem told Sudan Tribune.

Uganda’s military spokesperson, Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, told sections of the Uganda media that he was unaware of Makenge ’s surrender but admitted that 1,500 M23 fighters had handed themselves over to Ugandan authorities in western Uganda.

Sultan Makenge is wanted back in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for war crimes.

On Tuesday this week, the M23 President, Bertrand Bisimwa announced that his rebel group had abandoned rebellion and was ready to disarm and demobilise.

M23’s announcement came shortly the Congolese army with backing from a United Nations defeated the rebels and took over their last strong hold of Bunagana town, near the border with Uganda.

The defeat of the M23 has raised hope that conflict prone eastern Congo will for once have peace although numerous small militia groups still exist in the region.

The M23 was 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 and Uganda have been accused of backing the rebels, an allegation both countries deny.

(ST)