The Democratic Republic of Congo and defeated M23 rebels have failed to sign a peace deal. The delay came after an 11th-hour spat over whether the documents should be named as a peace agreement or a vaguer declaration.
The “DRC delegation has aborted the signing of [an] agreement with M23,” Ugandan government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said Monday. The signing was to take place at Uganda’s State House in Entebbe.
“They belatedly called for revision of the terms of the agreement and we have adjourned consequently,” Opondo told reporters.
DR Congo government spokesman Lambert Mende said the problem was the title of the deal to be signed, and the legal weight it therefore carried.
“We want to sign a ‘declaration’, but the mediator, for a reason we do not understand, wants to impose an ‘accord’ upon us,” Mende said.
“If he changed his mind, even tonight, we could sign.”
The M23 rebels announced last week that its 20-month insurgency was over. The group had been overwhelmed by the national army, who are backed by a 3,000-strong special UN intervention unit.
The M23 was founded by ethnic Tutsi former rebels who had been incorporated into the army under a 2009 peace deal, but who mutinied in April 2012. The rebels, allegedly supported by neighboring Rwanda and Uganda, are one of many armed groups operating in the impoverished east of the DR Congo.
With Kinshasa backing out, it is not immediately clear what will happen next as no new signing date was announced.
hc/ccp (Reuters, AFP)