By Raymond Baguma
THE UN Security Council and US Government have given a go-ahead to the peace talks in Kampala between the M23 rebels and DRC Government despite sanctions imposed against some of the rebel leaders.
The minister of defence who is also the chief facilitator at the talks, Dr. Crispus Kiyonga said that the UN sanctions against the M23 rebel leaders would not affect the ongoing talks.
Kiyonga said, “The sanctions took us by surprise because we were not expecting them. We could not start the dialogue soon after, because we did not want to break the sanctions. We contacted the office of the UN secretary general because we believe he supports the dialogue. We also contacted the US government because they moved the motion to sanction the M23.”
Kiyonga also told journalists yesterday that the Uganda government which is mediating in the talks, had availed to the US and UN, the list of the M23 rebel delegation to the ongoing Kampala talks.
“Both parties (UN and US) have assured us that they support the dialogue and sanctions don’t interfere with the dialogue. As long as member of the delegation has not been affected by sanctions, he can go ahead and participate,” he added.
The UN Security Council last week announced an arms embargo against the M23 rebels and the Rwandan dissident rebel force FDLR operating in the restive eastern DR Congo.
The Security Council committee tasked with monitoring sanctions on DRC also imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on M23 rebel officials Jean-Marie Runiga and Lt. Col. Eric Badege.
Runiga is a key figure in the M23 rebel group’s hierarchy and is a central in the ongoing dialogue in Kampala mediated by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). Uganda is currently holding the chairmanship of the rotational presidency.
Kiyonga also added that Uganda would seek for exemption for participation, to enable any M23 rebel leaders under UN travel sanctions to come to Kampala for the talks.