The Democratic Republic of the Congo is slated on Monday to sign a peace deal with the surrendered M23 rebel group to end their bloody conflict in the country’s east Ugandan government spokesman said Friday.
Ofwono Opondo, said a final peace accord has been drafted to pave the way for the demobilization of the former rebel fighters of M23. The rebels and their top commander, Sultani Makenga, surrendered to the Ugandan military this past week, after the DR Congo government forces drove them from their remaining strongholds near the Ugandan border.
A peace deal would cement the prospect of restoring order to the restive eastern Congo, after 20 months of war that aid groups say has displaced more than two million people from their homes within the country and sent refugees streaming across the border into Uganda and Rwanda.
M23 and the Congolese government in the past have missed several deadlines to sign an accord. The two sides were close to a deal in October, but the talks broke down after the government rejected a blanket amnesty demand.
Uganda has been mediating on-and-off talks between the rebels and the Congolese government since December 2012.
M23 rebel spokesman Amani Kabasha said the rebels will sign based on the “terms agreed in recent weeks.” These terms include the return and resettlement of refugees and the recognition within Congo of M23 as a political party, free to pursue its political activities without force of arms. Mediators and Mr. Kabasha said the rebels were no longer seeking amnesty for their leaders.
The U.N. and U.S. have placed a number of top rebel leaders, including Mr. Makenga, on their sanctions lists, alleging they were responsible for the recruitment of child soldiers and violence against civilians. M23 and Mr. Makenga in the past have denied involvement in such activity.