- Aug 2, 2010
NAIROBI Thu Dec 12, 2013 12:44pm EST
Democratic Republic of Congo's President Joseph Kabila (front C) walks along a street in Bunagana, a town formerly held by M23 rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, November 30, 2013.
CREDIT: REUTERS/KENNY KATOMBE
(Reuters) - The Congolese government has signed a peace deal with the M23 rebels it had been fighting until they laid down their arms last month, Kenya's presidential spokesman said on his official Twitter account on Thursday.
"DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) govt, M23 sign peace agreement in Nairobi," Manoah Esipisu wrote on his account.
M23 are the latest incarnation of Tutsi-led insurgents who have battled Congo's government in its mineral-rich eastern regions for more than two decades.
Congo government spokesman Lambert Mende said three documents were signed at the State House in Nairobi and their provisions include a reiteration of the dissolution of M23 as an armed group.
Other provisions include details of demobilization and a renunciation of violence as a means of pursuing future claims, he said.
"The document is very clear: there is no blanket amnesty. Those who are presumed to have committed criminal behavior in terms of international law, war crimes or crimes against humanity will not be reinserted into society," Mende said.
No blanket amnesty
"The document is very clear: there is no blanket amnesty. Those who are presumed to have committed criminal behavior in terms of international law, war crimes or crimes against humanity will not be reinserted into society," said Congo government spokesman Lambert Mende.
"There will be justice, and no blind amnesty. Whether justice is done here in Congo or in the Hague, it does not matter," he said, adding that the deal was signed at State House in Nairobi.
There was no immediate comment from former M23 rebels.
"We have been conducting some talks to try to conclude the dialog between the two parties (M23 and Kinshasa) and I am informed this evening the final document was signed in Nairobi," James Mugume, Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary.
U.N. experts have accused Uganda and Rwanda of backing the rebels during the uprising. Both countries deny the charge.
Last November, M23 rebels occupied Goma, a town of a million people and the capital of North Kivu province on the border with Rwanda. They withdrew under intense diplomatic pressure that led to the opening of talks in Uganda.
However, the fall of Goma led to a revamping of Congo's army and the strengthening of the U.N. force and its mandate in Congo.
When peace talks faltered, rebels were driven from all the remaining towns they occupied in a process that ended in November.
Kinshasa and the rebels failed to seal a deal last month after a dispute over what it should be called. The rebels were ready to sign a peace agreement but Congo's negotiators wanted to call it a declaration, reflecting the rebels' defeat.
The difficulty of concluding a deal highlighted deep-rooted regional tensions after the fighting.
Thursday's communique signaled the end of peace talks held under the auspices of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region and the Southern African Development Community region.
**** Also, document from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Malawian President Joyce Banda. Verified The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and M23 rebels signed declarations Thursday Dec 12th 2013 to end the bitter conflict in the east of the country
(Reporting by Richard Lough and Pete Jones; Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Emma Farge and Andrew Roche)