By Raymond Baguma
KAMPALA - The M23 rebels have announced a unilateral ceasefire ahead of a second round of peace talks in Kampala, with the government of President Joseph Kabila.
“We agree to a ceasefire and we are declaring that ceasefire. We are in a ceasefire situation right now,” said Francois Rucogoza, the M23 Executive Secretary during a press conference at Silver Springs Hotel in Kampala on Tuesday.
Previously, the rebels had demanded for a formal truce to be signed with the DR Congo Government of President Joseph Kabila.
However, the government preferred the matter be addressed by the military chiefs under the regional Joint Verification Mechanism.
Rucogoza said that even if the DRC government refuses to sign a ceasefire agreement, the rebels would continue with the negotiations.
The M23 rebels captured Goma on November 20, but withdrew from Goma two weeks later after the intervention of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) headed by President Museveni.
The rebels say that ever since they withdrew from Goma on December 2 last year, the DRC Government has reinforced FADRC troop presence with support from militia forces and the Hutu FDLR.
The talks began after regional Heads of State and Government of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) met in Kampala on November 24, to seek solutions to the security situation in Eastern DRC.
Uganda, which is currently holding the chair of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), is hosting the talks at Speke Resort Munyonyo, with the defence minister Dr. Crispus Kiyonga as the chief facilitator.
During the first round of the talks, the two warring sides agreed on the adoption of the Rules of Procedure as well as setting an agenda for the substantive talks.