World Bulletin/News Desk
The demobilization and reintegration into society of former members of the March 23 Movement (M23), a rebel group that used to be based in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), will require an estimated $100 million, an Angolan government minister said Friday.
"We need to accelerate the demobilization and reintegration of M23 because the conflict is over," Angolan External Affairs Minister Georges Rebelo Chicoti told a press conference in Ugandan capital Kampala.
"So far, nothing has been contributed… the process needs about $100 million," said Chicoti, whose country currently holds the rotating chairmanship of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).
The ICGLR is directly involved in the M23 demobilization process after brokering a peace deal between Kinshasa and the group last year. The deal was signed after M23 rebels were defeated last November by Congolese government forces, who forced the rebels to cross the border into Uganda and Rwanda.
Under the terms of the deal, rebels who renounced the rebellion were allowed to apply for an amnesty offered by the Congolese government.
At the press conference in Kampala, Chicoti stressed the importance of reintegrating former rebels into Congolese society.
"Eventually, we will need to mobilize resources for that," he said.
Contributions are expected to come not only from the DRC government, but also from other countries of the Great Lakes region and from the ICGLR, the U.N.'s Organization Stabilization Mission in DR Congo (MONUSCO), and the Southern African Development Community.
"I think it is an urgent issue to be handled," said Chicoti.
Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa, for his part, said support was also expected from the U.N., which had been a guarantor of last year's peace agreement.
"World Bank President Kim Yong Kim visited the DRC recently and promised support in this regard," said Kutesa.
The amnesty applies to acts of insurgency, acts of war and political offenses committed in the DR Congo up to December 20, 2013, when the bill was approved by the government.
However, serious crimes – including genocide, crimes against humanity, terrorism, torture, sexual violence, child conscription, embezzlement and looting – are not covered by the amnesty.
Chicoti, meanwhile, lamented the fact that former M23 rebels who fled to Rwanda had been "left out" of the amnesty application process.
"The problem, in our view, is the procedures," he said. "Why did we only offer amnesty to those in Uganda when… the process of signing [amnesty applications] should be done by everybody, including those in Rwanda?"
"There are about 600 [ex-M23 rebels in Rwanda], which brings the total number of those that need to be processed to over 2000," Chicoti added. "As chair of the Great Lakes Region, we [Angola] have to make sure that the government of Congo does it properly."
Without giving an exact date, Chicoti said he would be travelling to the DRC in coming days to meet ICGLR Executive Secretary Ntumba Luaba and DRC officials to discuss means of implementing the social integration process.
The M23 rebellion against the DRC government began in April of 2012 in the eastern North Kivu province.
The following year, M23 commander Sultan Makenga and his 1600 fighters were defeated by the U.N.-backed Congolese Army.
Last November, the rebels surrendered to the Uganda People's Defense Forces, and have remained in Uganda ever since.Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Mayıs 2014, 10:17