Congo rebels demand government ceasefire before talks

January 3, 2013 18:13


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BUNAGANA, Democratic Republic of Congo - Congolese rebels will attend peace talks with the government this week but will walk away if Kinshasa does not sign a ceasefire, the rebel political chief said on Thursday.

Efforts last month to end the nine-month rebellion in Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) volatile east failed when both sides talked war instead of an end to the crisis.

Foreign powers believe the rebels are backed by neighboring Rwanda and fear the conflict could spread and spark another regional war.

The rebel March 23 Movement (M23), named after a 2009 peace deal for eastern Congo that fell apart, questions the commitment of President Joseph Kabila's government to the peace process.

Jean-Marie Runiga, head of the rebel political wing, said government troops were reinforcing positions in the east and warned that M23 would defend itself against any offensive.

The talks are due to take place on Friday in Kampala, the capital of regional mediator Uganda.

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