Waiting ... the head of the M23 rebel military forces, Brigadier-General Sultani Makenga. Photo: AFP
CONGO'S rebel M23 group called for direct talks with President Joseph Kabila on ending its rebellion in the east of the country and warned the government not to reinforce its troops in the resource-rich region.
Congolese government officials met members of M23 Sunday in Kampala, the Ugandan capital, and the rebels will make a decision on what their next move will be once they have has been briefed on those discussions, Lieutenant-Colonel Vianney Kazarama, a spokesman for M23, said. ''We are waiting for a briefing,'' he said. ''We want inclusive, direct talks with the President.''
M23 captured Goma on November 20 after ending an unofficial three-month cease-fire with the Congolese army, which has fled the city close to the border with Rwanda.
The renegade group is headed by General Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. United Nations experts monitoring Congo's arms embargo accuse Rwanda and Uganda of backing the rebels, allegations both governments deny. Talks between the Congolese government and M23, which began in Uganda in August, have been given new impetus following a summit of regional leaders on November 24, James Mugume, permanent secretary in Uganda's Foreign Ministry, said.
The 12-nation International Conference on the Great Lakes Region agreed to deploy a ''composite'' force, including government and M23 soldiers and ''neutral'' guards to protect Goma airport within two days, while calling for the rebels to move at least 20 kilometres north of the city.