17 December 2013
UN Secretary-General welcomes signing of accords between DRC and M23
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the signing of long-awaited accords between the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the M23 rebels it has been fighting until last month, and called on all other armed groups in the country to lay down their weapons and join the political process.
Talks between the M23 (mostly composed of soldiers who mutinied from the DRC national army in April last year) and the government have been held in Uganda, under the auspices of the Chairperson of the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, the mediator, as well as Ugandan Defence Minister and Facilitator, Crispus Kiyonga.
The deal was finalised in Kenya, and signed by President Museveni and President Joyce Banda of Malawi, the chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The agreements effectively end the Kampala Dialogue which aimed at reaching a final and principled agreement that ensures the disarmament and demobilization of the M23 and accountability for human rights abuses. Under the outcome documents, former rebels are entitled to amnesty for rebelling, but are not granted immunity to alleged perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, or gross violations of human rights. Both sides also agreed on the end of M23 as a rebel movement and the possibility to establish itself as a political party.
The joint ICGLR-SADC final communique calls on international partners, particularly the UN and the African Union ‘to work together and provide support and resources to the Government of the DRC for the implementation of the commitments.’