Hundreds of thousands of children in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo live under the threat of attack by armed groups – but rarely are their experiences or views heard. Simon Rawles go to the Kivus region to find out how children’s lives have been affected by conflict.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has 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.
“This constitutes a positive step towards ending cycles of deadly conflicts that have caused immense suffering to the Congolese people,” Mr. Ban said in a statement from his spokesperson.
Democratic Republic of Congo’s government and M23 rebels signed declarations Thursday to end bitter conflict in the east of the country, a document signed by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Malawian President Joyce Banda read.
“The DR Congo government and M23 have respectively signed declarations” including the “decision by M23 to end rebellion and transform itself into a legitimate political party,” the document inked Thursday in Nairobi read.
M23, the Congolese rebel group, gave up fighting last week. They and the Congolese government are expected to officialize a peace deal. Although the M23 has made the most headlines in recent history, there are other rebel groups in the region, such as the Mai Mai and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda FDLR.
Five times, Majoro Sebageni had to climb a steep, muddy slope on Chanzu Hill in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, to dig battle trenches for the M23 rebels. [Read more…]
M23: Protect our members from UN, DRC forces
08 NOV 2013 18:21 MMANALEDI MATABOGE
M23 rebel leaders have been pleading with Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni to keep fleeing rebel soldiers that have fled into his country safe.
Leaders of the M23 rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are pleading with Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni to keep rebel soldiers that fled into his country safe.
Earlier this week M23 announced that it’s laying down arms after an onslaught by the Congolese army FARDC backed by the SADC force intervention brigade. The rebel group fears that its fighters would be handed over to the DRC government, as agreed to by leaders of SADC and the Great Lakes region.
A joint summit of SADC and the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) held in Pretoria on Monday resolved that any country that finds foreign rebel fighters on its soil should apprehend and hand them over to their country of origin.
M23, however, says its “ex-combatants” – who the group says disobeyed their commander’s orders by crossing into Uganda – “feel insecure by a process of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration under the supervision of the same forces that fought them while refusing any proposal to cease fire for more than a year,” according to a letter from M23 leader Bertrand Bisimwa to Museveni.
“They [M23 fighters] are referring here to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Armed Forces and the United Nations Mission in Congo [Monusco] in conduct of the process,” Bisimwa said.
“They remember many massacres that occurred after their demobilisation and reintegration at the end of previous rebellions,” he said.
Senior leaders of M23 and some of its members have belonged to several rebel groups before. They were integrated into the FARDC but mutinied early in 2012, accusing Joseph Kabila’s government of not fulfilling all aspects of the peace agreement.
SADC and the ICGLR are expecting M23 and the DRC government to seal and sign a peace deal by next week, after the rebel group denounced the 20-month rebellion and said it would seek a political solution.
Mmanaledi Mataboge is senior politics reporter for the Mail & Guardian.
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The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the defeated M23 rebels will Monday sign a peace deal, Kinshasa and Kampala said, with Uganda adding it will not send the fleeing insurgents back across the border. The March 23 Movement (M23) on…