DRC Gov’t, Rebels to Begin Talks Friday

Posted December 6th, 2012 at 9:15 am (UTC-5)
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Rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo will open talks with the Congolese government Friday in Uganda.

Ugandan spokesman Fred Opolot says delegations from the Congolese government and rebel group M23 will begin preliminary meetings in Kampala aimed at resolving their conflict.

He says the talks will focus on ground rules for future meetings and guidelines for “observers” that may monitor the conflict zones in the eastern DRC.

M23 withdrew from the Congolese city of Goma last week but has threatened to retake the city if the government fails to begin negotiations.

The rebels defeated the Congolese army in a series of battles this year.

A panel of United Nations experts has accused Uganda and Rwanda of supporting the group, something that both countries have denied.

Thursday's statement from Opolot said “Uganda, as current chair of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, continues to facilitate the peace process in DRC.”

M23 is made up of former rebels who were integrated into the Congolese army in a 2009 peace agreement. The rebels deserted the army earlier this year, complaining of discrimination and poor treatment.

The fighting has displaced more than 100,000 people in Congo's North Kivu province, aggravating an already serious humanitarian situation in the region.