By The Independent Team
The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday signed a peace deal with the M23 rebels, Kenya’s presidential spokesman Manoah Esipisu said.
“DRC govt, M23 sign peace agreement in Nairobi,” Manoah Esipisu wrote on his twitter account.
Several regional leaders who had travelled to Nairobi for celebrations to mark Kenya’s 50 years of independence witnessed the signing of the deal.
Other leaders present at the ceremony included Joyce Banda of Malawi and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda
DRC government spokesman Lambert Mende said three documents were signed and their provisions include a reiteration of the dissolution of M23 as an armed group, demobilisation and a renunciation of violence as a means of pursuing future claims.
“The document is very clear: there is no blanket amnesty. Those who are presumed to have committed criminal behaviour in terms of international law, war crimes or crimes against humanity will not be reinserted into society,” Mende said.
Foreign Minister Raymond Chibanda signalled the government’s determination to work towards the disarmament and demobilisation of M23 combatants and their reintegration into society, Mende said.
The M23 movement was defeated early last month following a joint offensive by government and United Nations (UN) forces.
Many of the rebels including their leader Sultani Makenga are reported to have either fled in to neighbouring Uganda or deeper in to the thick Congo jungles.
The UN has more than 19,000 troops in DR Congo, with a mandate of neutralizing armed groups with force if necessary.
Last month the DR Congo government refused to sign a deal with the M23 in Uganda’s capital, Kampala.
It said it had a problem with the title of the Ugandan-mediated document, not its contents.
The document should be called a declaration and not an accord as that gave too much credibility to the rebels, the government said at the time.