Friday, September 20, 2013

DR Congo: The peace talks farce.

New Vision ( Uganda ) reports

Congo rules out amnesty for top M23 rebels
                                                                                              Lambert Mende

KINSHASA - Democratic Republic of Congo has ruled out granting amnesty to some 100 senior M23 rebels, it said on Thursday, leaving open the possibility that these commanders could be pursued even after peace talks are concluded.

Talks began in Uganda last week, after the army, backed by U.N. troops, scored rare military successes in August, forcing M23 into negotiations which could lead to the majority of rebels being reintegrated into the army which they deserted in 2012.

This myth that the rebels were forced into negotiations seems to be taking root. The rebel M23 forces have been desperate for the resumption of the peace talks as they are losing the war on the ground. The peace talks allow M23 to buy time and the Congolese government should never have agreed to them.

I doubt very much any of the officers of M23 will be integrated into  FARDC, the Congolese army. Should M23 agree to an unconditional surrender then it would seem reasonable to allow the demobilisation of the troops who are not wanted for crimes, remembering that some of them may be serving against their will.

"We have a list of around 100 M23 commanders who will not be eligible for amnesty or for reintegration into the national army," government spokesman Lambert Mende told a news conference in the capital Kinshasa.

Rebels ineligible for any amnesty were those who had taken part in multiple rebellions, were on international sanctions lists or had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, Mende told journalists.

"To reintegrate these individuals would legitimate recourse to armed violence and insurrection," Mende said. The rest of the estimated 1,700 M23 rebels would be considered on a case by case basis, he added.

That figure of 1700 seems a bit high to me. I hope that there is some effort underway to encourage the M23 troops, for whom death is not an attractive option, to desert. That would be a further body blow for M23. 

M23's reaction was muted. Spokesman Amani Kabashi said the government's decision would not jeopardise the negotiations.

"The dialogues will continue," Kabasha told Reuters by telephone from M23's base in its heartland North Kivu province.

"We don't even want to reintegrate. If the talks can bring security, then we are all happy to do something else: farm, or teach, to help our population," he said.

That is comical. The M23 response has been anything but muted. From Congo DRC News. It should be remembered this is an M23 site.

AMNESTY OF OFFICERS M23: About the Mende are the sounds of frogs

" The sounds of toads do not prevent the cows drink from the river," they say.And about Mende are the sounds of toads. Fortunately he speaks on behalf of a government and an unscrupulous people who do not ask for account and do not get indignant. Otherwise, he would have been forced to resign as he has no sense of honor or dignity or to do it himself. "

"...As against the camp of Mende, there will not always be MONUSCO and the international brigade to fight in their place. But before we get there, Mende and his government should for once take care to learn how many FARDC soldiers must overcome to 100 officers M23."

I have left the Google Translate interpretation alone it clearly shows the un-muted reaction of M23. I think it is reasonable to take the above statement as the public position of M23. This is a declaration by M23 leadership that regardless of the outcome in Kampala they have no intention of allowing their troops to integrate into the Congolese Army or to demobilise. 

I am of the opinion that Kinshasa are just going through the motions at the Kampala peace talks and so it would now seem are M23. The real issue is that there is nothing for either side to talk about. This much vaunted political solution has failed yet again, neither side is participating in good faith that leaves a military solution on the table. 

The M23 insurgency is the latest incarnation of a Tutsi-dominated rebellion that has repeatedly tried to integrate into the Congolese army, only to withdraw. Its fighters deserted en masse 18 months ago, accusing the government of reneging on a 2009 peace deal.

The problem with re-integration is that it will not resolve the real issue of Rwandan interference in the eastern DR Congo. The deal will collapse on the orders of Rwanda's President Kagame and M23 will be reborn in yet another carnation. 

U.N. investigators and the Congolese government have accused Rwanda of sponsoring the rebellion, a charge Rwanda denies.

The danger from the perspective of the DR Congo in attending the peace talks is that Rwanda is undoubtedly using the lull in hostilities to rearm and reinforce M23 from within the ranks of the Rwandan army.

The government stance against a blanket amnesty is supported by Mary Robinson, U.N. special envoy to the region.

"We believe that there should not be amnesty for those accused of having committed serious crimes, nor should they be integrated in the armed forces of the DRC," she said this month.

In other words the leadership of M23.  

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