High Hopes As DR Congo, M23 Rebels Set To Sign Peace Deal

Kampala  November 11, 2013 – The Democratic Republic of Congo and defeated M23 rebels failed to sign a hoped-for peace deal Monday, after Kinshasa demanded the agreement be revised, a Ugandan government official said.

The “DRC delegation has aborted the signing of agreement with M23,” Ugandan government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said, adding that the meeting was “adjourned sine die (without date)”.

The deal, expected to be signed Monday, was billed as a key step in efforts to end decades of war in the Great Lakes region.

“For some strange reason the delegation of the DRC government did not enter the conference room, where the signing ceremony was expected to be,” Opondo told reporters.

“They belatedly called for revision of the terms of the agreement and we have adjourned consequently.”

However, DR Congo government spokesman Lambert Mende said the problem had come over the title of the deal to be signed.

“We want to sign a declaration, but the mediator, for a reason we do not understand, wants to impose an accord upon us,” Mende said.

“If he changed his mind, even tonight, we could sign.”

The rebels, one of many armed groups operating in the mineral-rich but impoverished east of the DR Congo, have been routed by the national army, who are backed by a 3,000-strong special United Nations intervention brigade.

Allegedly supported by neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda but seemingly abandoned by their sponsors due to international pressure, the M23 announced last week that their 18-month insurgency was over. (AFP)