11/24/2012

DR Congo conflict: M23 rebels urged to stop war


BBCNEWS

A summit of four African heads of state has urged rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo to cease fire and stop threats to depose the government.

The leaders also told the M23 group to leave the eastern city of Goma, which they captured on Tuesday.
However, Congolese President Joseph Kabila has been urged to listen to the rebels' grievances.
The talks were held in Uganda which, alongside Rwanda, has been accused of backing the rebels.
Both countries deny the charges.
The UN has warned of a humanitarian crisis with food and medicines running short.
Armed groups have battled over mineral-rich eastern DR Congo for two decades.
Joint force
President Kabila and the presidents of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania attended the Uganda talks but the Rwandan leader, Paul Kagame, stayed away. He was represented by his foreign minister.
A BBC correspondent at the summit says some of the M23 leaders have also been in Kampala.
The four presidents issued a statement calling on M23 to "stop all war activities and withdraw from Goma" +and "stop talk of overthrowing an elected government".
Rebels have rejected previous calls to leave Goma, the capital of North Kivu province and the main city in eastern DR Congo.
The four proposed a joint force of neutral regional troops, government soldiers and rebels at Goma airport.
About 500,000 people have been displaced by the rebellion since it began in April, with the formation of M23 after a mutiny in the army.
The rebels said they were not given army posts promised in a 2009 deal to end a previous uprising.
Their exact aims are unclear but they have also advanced beyond Goma, taking the town of Sake despite a loyalist fight-back.
They had threatened to attack the capital, Kinshasa, if President Kabila did not open negotiations with them.
On Thursday, the head of DR Congo's army was suspended pending an investigation into claims that he sold weapons to rebel groups.
A UN report accused Gen Gabriel Amisi of running a network supplying arms to poachers and rebel groups including the notorious Mai Mai Raia Mutomboki.
The UN has accused Rwanda and Uganda of backing the M23, saying the chain of command culminates with Rwandan Defence Minister James Kabarebe.
The M23's gains have raised fears of renewed war in DR Congo, where some five million people died in a conflict from 1997-2003.
The UN Security Council has adopted a resolution condemning the rebel seizure of Goma and calling for sanctions against M23 leaders.
Tens of thousands of civilians have fled as the rebel forces have advanced, scattering from villages and refugee camps.
The United Nations' children's fund Unicef says hundreds of children have been separated from their parents. It warns that many of them risk being recruited by armed groups.