Ugandan Defense Minister Crispus Kiyonga said that he is mediating discussions to help both sides reach a settlement that would end a violent rebellion that has sucked in Uganda and Rwanda, which both face charges of backing the rebels.
Mr. Abandi, who now is based in the Ugandan capital of Kampala, said M23 representatives met with Congolese President Joseph Kabila in a tense, two-hour meeting that also was attended by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
“He tried to accuse us, and we also tried to accuse him,” Mr. Abandi said of the meeting with Mr. Kabila on Saturday. “It was a meeting to have a common understanding of the principle of negotiation. [Mr. Kabila] said he’s ready to negotiate directly with us.”
But some Congolese officials in the capital of Kinshasa have said there will be no talks with the rebels unless they quit Goma.
A regional summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region in Kampala — attended Saturday by Mr. Kabila and Mr. Museveni — called on the rebels to leave Goma and urged Mr. Kabila to listen to the “legitimate grievances” of M23.
Despite the regional leaders’ demands for the rebel forces to withdraw from Goma, M23 soldiers were visibly in control of the city Sunday.
Mr. Runiga said that withdrawal from Goma was “under consideration” and, while M23 did not oppose the idea “in principle,” no decision had been taken yet, according to M23 spokesman Lt. Col. Vianney Kazarama, speaking to The Associated Press.
“Since May we have asked to meet with President Kabila,” said Amani Kabasha, M23’s deputy spokesman. “At least now there has been contact. The door is open for talks to find the durable peace that eastern Congo needs.”
Government troops remain in Minova, 15 miles south of Sake, following a failed attack on M23 on Thursday. Unruly Congo army soldiers had looted for the third night running, according to a U.N. official in the town who insisted upon anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press.
U.N. peacekeepers patrolled Minova throughout the night to protect civilians from the rampaging government troops.View Entire Story
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