Around 1,500 of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s M23 rebels have surrendered to Uganda’s military, a spokesman announced on Thursday amid conflicting reports that the group’s commander, Sultani Makenga, was among those who had turned themselves in.
Around 1,500 members of the Democratic Republic of Congo's M23 rebels have surrendered to Uganda, a Ugandan military spokesman announced on Thursday. It is believed that those detained made up the bulk of the rebel group’s force.
"About 1,500 fighters surrendered today," said Paddy Ankunda, spokesman for Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga, who is mediating peace talks between the M23 and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s government.
Ankunda said, however, that he was “not aware” if Makenga was among those who had turned themselves over to Uganda’s military.
FRANCE 24 contacted one of the rebel commander’s aides, who denied that Makenga had been detained.
Makenga’s whereabouts have been unclear since the M23 declared on Tuesday that it was ending its 20-month-old rebellion in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, raising fears that he could be in hiding with plans to regroup.
The Congolese military, with the support of a UN force of African troops, led an offensive to drive M23 out of their last strongholds at the end of October, prompting the rebel group to call for an end to all hostilities and pledge to pursue talks with the government.
But analysts have warned against too much optimism for a sustained peace in the east of the vast nation, where the M23 was only of several armed groups in the mineral-rich region.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)
Date created : 2013-11-07