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DRC And Rwandan Rebel Group M23 Quit Peace Talks As War Drums Beat

Sultan Makenga

Sultan Makenga
Both the DRC government and M23 representatives to the peace talks in Kampala have returned to their bases, leaving no room for a political solution to the conflict that has left hundreds dead and thousands in refugee camps in neighbouring countries.

The DRC government delegation quit their hotel rooms at Commonwealth Resort, Munyonyo on Thursday before being flown out of the country.

The M23’s representatives followed suit on Friday afternoon, returning to Bunagana.

Military sources have told Chimpreports the two camps had met only twice in a period of 3 weeks.

The rebel group accused Kinshasha of a “negative attitude” towards the talks and “having too much faith” in the UN Intervention Brigade.

The Brigade will be composed of troops from Tanzania, Malawi and South Africa.

Some of the South African combatants have already arrived in Goma. It also emerged that at least 30 French military personnel had arrived in Goma to finalize plans of combating M23 fighters.

M23 officials on Monday afternoon told Chimpreports: “Kabila thinks that South Africa and Tanzania mercenaries will defeat M23. He is dreaming because we can’t be beaten by scouts.”

In preparation for an attack, sources say, M23 has intensified a massive recruitment and training of new combatants in guerilla warfare to engage UN Brigade.

Knowledgeable sources say the Brigade should prepare for a storm, considering that majority of M23 fighters have lived and fought several wars in their territory which is alien to the invading force.

The mountainous terrain and wintry weather is also dangerous for war planes, which could work against the UN Brigade should it choose to use the air force against the rebels.

It is also important to note that M23 is very popular in its territory, owing to victories secured against DRC troops in several encounters in 2012.

A source told Chimpreports that the UN force also faces the challenge of language and could face hostility from locals who dread FARDC forces for raping women, killing and maiming innocent civilians.

UN last week said at least 126 women had been raped in the eastern town of Minova in November 2012 by DRC soldiers.

What is also likely to compound The UN Brigade’s troubles in DRC is identification of rebels, considering they do not have a specific uniform.

While some put on the DRC uniform imported from China, others wear civilian clothes.

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

On Monday morning, rumours spread that M23 military leader Brig Sultani Makenga had been shot in an ambush. However, sources described the story as “war propaganda” by Kinshasha intelligence aimed at demoralizing M23 combatants.

Impeccable military sources told this website that Makenga has already resolved that should his men be attacked, he will advance, strike and seize Goma with the view of marching to Kinshasha to topple President Joseph Kabila.

Speaking last Thursday at his base in Bunagana, Makenga warned: “We shall not surrender nor accept to be denied rights to exist on our ancestral land. We fight for our rights; we have to defend our lives, unless if the world believes that we must accept arbitrary arrests, and extermination of our families from the face of the Congo.”

He added: “We shall not surrender nor accept to be denied rights to exist on our own. The UN is set to unleash war in North and South Kivu and Maniema Provinces.”

M23 says South African forces have taken positions which are less than 15 kilometres away from M23 positions in Munigi on the outskirts of Goma.

The Tanzanian forces have also arrived in Uvira, South Kivu Province and the Tanzanian commander of the troops is in Goma town.

M23’s demands

M23 revolted in 2012, accusing Kabila of rigging the 2011 Presidential elections, human rights abuses, discrimination and corruption in the army and planned massacre of CNDP soldiers who had been integrated in FARDC.

Since the opening of the peace talks in Kampala, The rebels have been calling for the release of political prisoners affiliated to the rebel group, declaring Kivu a disaster area and formally recognizing the ranks of the military and police on the basis of M23 OB (Order of Battle) presented by the movement.

The rebels also want Kabila to organize, “without delay, provincial, urban and municipal elections and local throughout the territory of the Republic, in accordance with section 1 of Law No. 06/006 09 March 2006 on the organization of elections in the DRC.”

The demands are contained in M23’s proposed draft peace agreement presented to Dr Crispus Kiyonga, the mediator of peace talks in Kampala.

M23 want the DRC Government to show commitment to creating a special structure for national reconciliation and should “enjoy financial and administrative autonomy and placed under the authority of the President and supported by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the Great Lakes Region.”

The rebels further ask Kabila to apply the provisions of Article 175 of the Constitution relating to the withholding of 40 percent of revenues from the public treasury, and within 45 days to enact a law establishing the classification of tax revenues and their allocation.

The Movement says government must apply the provisions of Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution establishing 25 provinces plus the city of Kinshasa and enact an organic law on the composition, organization and functioning of the decentralized territorial entities and their relations with the State and the Provinces.

Because of recurring wars that led to the destruction of infrastructure, socio-economic fabric, fracture social cohesion and the absence of any prospect of development due to deficiency of a lasting peace and security in recent decades in the east of the Republic, the M23 wants government to undertake to declare the eastern part of the DRC (North Kivu, South Kivu, Ituri, Haut-Ouele, Maniema and Tanganyika) as a “disaster area.”

The rebels say the declared “disaster area” should enjoy a special administrative status; unique special development plan; broad fiscal and financial autonomy and specified operational concept for its security.

It further says DRC must facilitate the integration of policy frameworks of M23 and those considered as such and government should involve leaders of the movement in the management of national institutions through government centers, diplomacy/ Chancelleries, public enterprises, provinces and general Staff.

AMNESTY

Regarding national reconciliation, Kinshasha is required to enact amnesty provision for acts of war and insurrection covering the period from May 7 2009 until the end of the implementation of Agreement and in accordance with international law.

“In order to strengthen the democratic debate and to participate in national politics, the M23 is committed to become a political party. However, it reserves the right to change its name,” the proposed draft agreement reads in part.

Should these conditions be fulfilled, M23 says it is committed to conduct joint operations with government to participate in peacekeeping operations and stabilization of the eastern part.

To pacify sustainably eastern part of the Republic and effectively participate in the stabilization of the Great Lakes Region, M23 argues, these operations should be conducted over a period of five years, renewable and will aim to the final eradication of all foreign negative forces (LRA, ADF-NALU, FNL, FDLR) operating from the Congolese territory.

It further stresses the rebels should be repatriated to their countries of origin of all prisoners captured during those operations.

“Therefore, there will be the composition and articulation of joint forces (FARDC-ARC) to carry out such operations and reach, within a reasonable time to the expected results.”

The group further contends that to “end impunity in the national army the DRC government should set up a joint commission of independent investigation to shed light on selective assassinations in the national army, soldiers in Kamina, in Dungu, in Rutshuru, Shabunda in South Kivu and elsewhere, so that the sponsors of these acts will be brought before the competent courts.”

M23 further pledges to participate in the development of local communities to national parks and given the fact that they all suffered from the consequences of repeated wars, both parties should undertake initiatives to promote the tourism industry and to assign 100 percent of tourism revenue development of these populations.

“This base will be managed jointly by the permanent local conciliation committees and development structure to be agreed by both parties.”

M23 contends that given the principle of the continuity of the State, the Government of the DRC should recognize all the political and administrative acts within entities under administration M23.

Source: Chimp Reports

April 29, 2013   No Comments

Rwanda on the spot once again on claims of poor human-rights record

Rwanda’s human-rights record is once again in the spotlight after a new report by the US Department of State accused government security agents of engaging in torture, arbitrary or unlawful killings and detention of citizens without trial.

The Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2012 accuses Rwanda’s military intelligence services and police of torturing civilians using electric shocks, beatings and starving of suspects, among other abuses.

Specifically, the military intelligence department is accused of detaining civilians in safe houses without being charged or tried for several months.

The report, which the authors said offers an assessment of Rwanda’s human-rights record last year, notes that, while the government has occasionally made efforts to investigate these abuses, it did not punish any perpetrators.

“The most important human-rights problems in the country remained the government’s targeting of journalists, political opponents and human-rights advocates for harassment, arrest, and abuse; disregard for the rule of law among security forces and the judiciary; restrictions on civil liberties; and support of rebel groups in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo,” said the US report.

“The government generally took steps to prosecute or punish officials who committed abuses, whether in the security services or elsewhere, but impunity involving civilian officials and State Security Forces was a problem.”

Rwanda has repeatedly denied allegations that the country is backing the M23 rebels operating in eastern Congo.

The accusations saw some key donors, mainly Germany, UK, the Netherlands and the US suspend or withdraw aid to Rwanda late last year.

In December last year, it was reported that US President Barack Obama had called Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and warned him about supporting the rebels.

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The latest report further damages the image of Rwanda, which at the beginning of the year took up its position as a member of the United Nations Security Council.

Rwanda, analysts said, was hoping to use its newly acquired membership to the UNSC to defuse tensions over its alleged role in the conflict in eastern DRC.

Only last year, yet another report by Amnesty International documented 18 allegations of torture and other cruel or degrading treatment or punishment perpetrated by the military intelligence and other agencies to secure information or force confessions at Kami military intelligence camp, Ministry of Defence headquarters, Mukamira military camp and safe houses.

Positive steps

However, local and international human-rights organisations acknowledged that the army’s leadership had taken positive steps during the year to reform military interrogation methods and detention standards, resulting in fewer reports of torture and other cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment at Kami and other military detention facilities.

According to the report, there were fewer reports of disappearances and politically motivated abductions or kidnappings than in previous years, but local human-rights organisations ceased investigating disappearances during the year after reporting pressure from government officials, including threats and allegations of treason.

Amnesty International, Liprodhor and other observers alleged that the Military Intelligence Directorate, the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) as well as the Department of Intelligence orchestrated the disappearances.

Reacting to the report, the leader of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, Frank Habineza, said: “The National Human Rights Commission and the office of Ombudsman should carry out independent investigations into the matter and inform the general public about the alleged human-rights abuses.”

On his part, the executive secretary for the League for the Defence of Human Rights in the Great Lakes Region, Epimack Kwokwo, asks Members of Parliament to come up with a law that gives an independent body powers to investigative the alleged crimes and bring the culprits to book

He noted that the police and military could not investigate themselves. While prison and detention centre conditions were harsh, the report notes, the government made numerous improvements during the year.

The US report also criticises the government over failed attempts to stem rampant corruption, citing several cases. In a controversial March report, an ad hoc parliamentary committee charged the then Minister for Finance and Economic Planning John Rwangomba and eight other senior government officials with mismanaging the Rukara hydropower dam project.

Investigations by parliament

The parliamentary investigation followed the publication of an article in the New Times, which claimed that in 2011 Minister of Local Government James Musoni had illegally awarded public tenders to the local company Digitech Solutions (now known as Ngali Holdings).

Mr Rwangomba and the other officials protested the report’s findings as inaccurate and poorly researched, and in August the parliamentary committee of public accounts cleared the nine officials of any wrongdoing.

Source: Inyenyeri News

April 29, 2013   No Comments