KAMPALA: Congolese rebels said they expected to sign a peace deal with the government by the end of February that would end their ten-month revolt, but Kinshasa said capricious demands from the rebels could cause delays.
The M23 rebels have carved out a fiefdom in eastern Congo’s North Kivu province that has dragged Congo’s eastern region back into war and displaced an estimated half a million people.
Bertrand Bisimwa, spokesperson for the rebels and a participant in the talks, said negotiations had already covered substantial ground.
Government spokesman Lambert Mende was less optimistic, saying they were hoping to have things finished by the end of February but M23 have made lots of capricious extra demands, which is slowing down the process.
The Kampala talks aim to bring the rebels and Kinshasa closer on a wide range of economic, political and security issues dividing the two sides, including amnesty for war and insurgency acts, the release of political prisoners and reparation of damages due to the war.
The M23 rebels, who launched their offensive after accusing President Joseph Kabila of reneging on the terms of a March 2009 peace agreement, have since broadened their goals to include removal of Kabila and liberation of the entire Congo.