viagra http://codefor.asia/wp-content/plugins/jetpack/functions.compat.php geneva; font-size: small;”>Officials told Chimpreports the rebel outfit’s military commander Brig Sultani Makenga and political leader Bertrand Bisiimwa were among several former rebels who signed amnesty forms at Bihanga barracks in western Uganda on Thursday.
Army spokesperson Lt Col Paddy Ankunda was not readily available for comment.
However, Ankunda recently told this website that former M23 combatants would return to their country after Uganda has secured assurance on their security.
It should be remembered that a few days before the M23 broke ranks with the Congolese government; several former CNDP fighters who had been reintegrated into the mainstream army after the 2009 rebellion, were reportedly massacred after being deployed in an area outside Kivu.
This was one of the rebels’ concerns as Uganda and DRC negotiated the M23 fighters’ return to their home country.
M23 were in December 2013 defeated by a joint force of troops from DRC, Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania.
Hundreds of rebel recruits perished in the air bombardments of their bases but a sizeable number of fighters including the movement’s commanders crossed to Uganda and Rwanda where they have since been kept in isolated facilities.
The movement was formed in 2012 to pressure President Joseph Kabila’s government to facilitate the return of Congolese refugees from neighbouring countries and stop discrimination and abuse of rights of the minority Tutsi.
Kabila’s government was also faulted for not constructing decent road infrastructure, hospitals and education facilities in Kivu.
Following a large exodus of Congolese militants to Uganda in 2013, regional leaders piled pressure on Kabila to agree to amnesty for the rebels as part of a political solution to the crisis in Eastern Congo.
In February this year, Kabila announced an amnesty for former M23, a declaration that covered “acts of insurgency, acts of war and political offences” committed in the war-torn country up to December 20, 2013, when the ‘Amnesty Bill’ was approved by the government.
However, due to international pressure, the Bill did not cover serious crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity, terrorism, torture, sexual violence, child conscription and embezzlement and looting.
It was feared that the amnesty law was designed specifically to nail Makenga and his top commanders.
However, sources say regional leaders would later crack a deal with Kabila to forgive Makenga thus ensuring a complete end to the turmoil in Eastern Congo.
Speaking at a meeting of regional leaders in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in February this year, UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said the answer to instability in eastern DRC cannot be “purely military,” noting the “critical” need to swiftly adopt an amnesty law and launch a comprehensive disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process for the rebels, repatriating those who are in neighbouring countries.
The DRC has been torn apart by civil wars and factional fighting since it became independent from Belgium in 1960.
Fighting between the Government and a variety of rebel and sectarian groups has continued to devastate the eastern regions, particularly North and South Kivu provinces.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region Mary Robinson in February said much still remains to be accomplished, including consolidating gains made in North Kivu following the end of the M23 rebellion, restoring state authority, tackling the issue of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), and promoting sustainable dialogue among the signatories.
“It will further require the involvement of the widest possible participating constituency and new thinking around livelihoods,” she told the meeting in Ethiopia, urging the signatories to the ‘Framework of Hope’ to “give renewed impetus to all their commitments in order to generate the required peace dividends and effect the promised changes in the Great Lakes region.”