Peace deal with M23 rebels in Congo delayed

BY newsdesk  November 11, 2013 at 2:25 PM EDT

UN forces supported the Congolese army and engaged with M23 rebels in late October.

Photo by Carl de Souza/Getty Images

UPDATED: 2:25 p.m. ET

After meeting at the presidential residence in Entebbe, Uganda, Monday, the Congolese government said they needed more time to review the peace deal document.

A Ugandan spokesperson told the Associated Press that the deal had not been finalized because Congo’s government would only sign a “declaration” that the rebellion is over, but not an “agreement” with the rebels. The Ugandan government has been a key negotiator in the Congo peace talks since last December.

POSTED: 12:28 p.m. ET

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and M23 rebels are >set to sign a peace agreement Monday that would end the rebels 18-month insurgency in the impoverished central African nation.

A spokesman for the M23 rebels confirmed that the group’s leaders will attend a signing ceremony in Entebbe, Uganda later today. The Ugandan government has been a key negotiator in the Congo peace talks since last December.

Hundreds of rebel fighters recently fled to Uganda after being defeated by government troops in eastern Congo, including their top commander, Sultani Makenga, who remains in custody in Uganda. The Congolese army was supported by UN peacekeeping forces acting on a new mandate to engage rebels militarily.

The Congolese government hopes that the rebels will cease use of arms completely after signing the agreement. The rebels have lost most of their military leverage against the combined forces of the Congolese government troops and the United Nations special intervention brigade, leaving them little room for negotiation.

The negotiations are also expected to determine the fate of more than a thousand rebel fighters, as well as the top commanders, who have been accused of serious war crimes.

The United States envoy to Africa’s Great Lakes region, Russ Feingold, said the potential agreement would be a “modest” but important step toward peace in the Congo.

The NewsHour has been following the fighting between government forces and rebels and the continuing peace agreements over the past few months.

H/T Rachel Wellford