Peace talks with Congo rebels expected this week

Tue Dec 4, 2012 2:44pm EST
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By Kenny Katombe

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) - Negotiations between the Congolese government and eastern rebels are expected to take place this week, regional officials said on Tuesday after the insurgents withdrew from the city of Goma.

The eight-month insurgency by M23 rebels poses the biggest threat to Congolese President Joseph Kabila in years and risks developing into a war that could drag in neighboring armies.

Two officials from Uganda, which has been brokering peace talks between the Congolese government and M23, said the two sides were expected in the Ugandan capital Kampala this week.

A high-ranking Congolese official also said a Congolese delegation including lawmakers and a minister was due in the Ugandan capital this week for talks.

Rwanda has also been part of a regional effort to end the latest bout of violence in the tinder-box region. Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said peace talks were critical.

"What's next is negotiations between the M23 and the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo. That should happen in the next few days," Mushikiwabo told a news conference in the Rwandan capital Kigali.

Rwanda has a history of meddling in Congo's conflicts but President Paul Kagame has repeatedly denied involvement in the latest fighting. He has accused Congo and world powers of seeking a scapegoat for their failures.

Congo's eastern borderlands have suffered nearly two decades of conflict stoked by ethnic and political enmities and fighting over the region's rich resources of gold, tin, tungsten and coltan - a precious metal used to make mobile phones.   Continued...

Recruits of the newly formed Congolese Revolutionary Army march during military training in Rumangabo military camp, Democratic Republic of Congo, October 23, 2012. REUTERS/James Akena