The facilitator of the peace talks between the DR Congo government and the M23 rebels, Dr Crispus Kiyonga, has said steps have been taken to ensure that the UN Security Council sanctions against the rebels do not affect the ongoing negotiations in Kampala.
The UN Security Council committee tasked with monitoring DR Congo recently imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on M23 rebel officials, Jean-Marie Runiga and Lt. Col. Eric Badege.
Dr Kiyonga said he has been consulting with the UN and US government with a view to ensuring that the recent sanctions slammed on M23 do not create negative implications for the talks.
“The sanctions took us by surprise, but both the UN and US have assured me that they support the dialogue and that the sanctions won’t affect it,” the Ugandan Defence minister said during the eighth plenary session of the peace talks. “If there is anybody who is sanctioned but we want him to participate in the dialogue, we will seek exemption.”
The UN Security Council also announced an arms embargo against the Congolese M23 rebels as well as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, who are blamed for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
Dr Kiyonga said there is still need for agreement between the region and the international community on imposing sanctions.
“As a region, we support what can bring peace and reconciliation, but there are some people in the international community who emphasise justice first even when parties are willing to undergo dialogue,” Dr Kiyonga said.
“We have agreed to disagree on that point,” he added.
On reports that there has been a violation of cessation of hostilities in Goma, the peace talks facilitator said he had asked the commander of the Joint Verification Mechanism to investigate the allegations.
Four clusters that compose the agenda of the talks include; review of the March 23, 2009 agreement (that ended an earlier rebellion); security issues; social, economic and political matters; as well as the mechanism for implementation – monitoring and evaluation of the Kampala agreement.