By Raymond Baguma
The DRC government has expressed doubt about the M23 rebel commitment to its unilateral ceasefire, saying the rebels have not respected the regional Heads of State directive to withdraw 20 kilometers outside Goma city.
Recently, the rebels announced a unilateral ceasefire, but the DRC government preferred the matter be addressed by the military chiefs under the regional Joint Verification Mechanism.
The M23 rebels captured Goma on November 20 last year, but withdrew from Goma two weeks later after the intervention of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) headed by President Museveni.
Rev. Fr. Apollinaire Malu Malu, the deputy chief negotiator for the DRC government said, “Those are false statements. The M23 does not respect fully the decision of Heads of State. They have not gone 20 kilometers outside Goma. At the moment they are one kilometer and not 20 kilometers.”
Malu Malu told journalists, “The M23 has no respect for the relevant decision of the Summit of Heads of State that it should withdraw at 20 kms north of Goma, which M23 has not done.”
The Congolese government delegation also scoffed at the rebel demands for cancellation of results of November 2011 presidential election, dissolution of the Senate, Provincial Assemblies, and resignation of Governors and establishment of a National Transitional Council to manage the transitional period.
Malu Malu also questioned how the procedure to grant amnesty to the rebels will be initiated if the rebels want the concerned State institutions such as the National Assembly, Senate and Presidency to be dissolved.
Malu Malu who is also the head of the expert group of the government delegation said that the Government is not ready to compromise with what will undermine the Constitution and institutional order of DR Congo.
On the agenda item to grant amnesty to M23 rebels, Malu Malu questioned the appropriateness of granting amnesty to those who have benefited from amnesty in the past.
“This will be the second or third time that amnesty will be granted. To do so, would not it be interpreted as an incitement to commit offences again?” asked Malu Malu.