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DR Congo signs peace deal with M23 rebels

Photo: AFP

The Democratic Republic of Congo has signed a peace deal with the M23 rebels, it was announced Thursday, confirming the group's dissolution a month after it ended its 18-month insurgency against the government.

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The Congolese government signed a peace deal with the M23 rebel group on Thursday, a month after the Tutsi-led insurgent group said it was ending its 18-month rebellion.

Congo government spokesman Lambert Mende said three documents were signed at the State House in Nairobi, Kenya, and that their provisions include a reiteration of the dissolution of M23 as an armed group.

Other provisions include details of demobilisation and a renunciation of violence as a means of pursuing future claims, he said.

However, he stressed that the agreement does not include an amnesty for those accused of war crimes during the fighting.

“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.

M23 is the latest incarnation of Tutsi-led insurgents who have battled Congo’s government in its mineral-rich eastern region since 1996, in an evolving conflict that has caused the deaths of millions from violence, hunger and disease.

In November, however, M23 announced an end to its rebellion and said it would from now on pursue its goals "through purely political means".

The decision to lay down its arms came shortly after the rebel group suffered a heavy defeat in an offensive by the Congolese army and UN forces.

A subsequent attempt to sign a peace deal last month failed at the 11th hour following a spat over the final wording of the agreement.

The rebels were ready to sign a peace agreement but Congo’s negotiators wanted to call it a declaration, reflecting the rebels’ defeat.

But while Thursday’s agreement apparently concludes the most serious rebellion in Congo in a decade, the situation in the region remains fragile.

A number of other rebel groups, such as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) are still active in the country, while it remains to be seen if former M23 rebels can be successfully reintegrated.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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