A delegation representing Congo's M23 rebels has arrived in the Ugandan capital to participate in negotiations being held to bring a halt to the interminable cycles of violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. "The delegation has now arrived in Kampala," March 23 movement (M23) delegation spokesman Bertrand Bisimwa said on Friday. "We are ready and are waiting for the program for the negotiation from the mediator," he added. The Congolese government delegation was already in the capital of Uganda, which has been selected as the mediator for the talks. On December 31, 2012, the UN Security Council unanimously agreed to impose an arms embargo on M23 and another rebel group known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). The sanctions freeze assets of certain people linked to the groups and bar two M23 leaders -- the rebel group's president, Jean-Marie Runiga, and one of its military commanders, Lt. Col. Eric Badege -- from travel. Kinshasa and the United Nations have said that the rebels fighting the Congolese army were trained in Rwanda, an accusation Kigali denies. The M23 rebels seized the eastern city of Goma on November 20 after UN peacekeepers gave up the battle for the frontier city, which is home to about one million people. The rebels withdrew from the city on December 1 under a ceasefire accord. The Congolese government and M23 have been holding peace talks in Kampala since early December. However, the talks were suspended on December 21, after the parties failed to agree on an agenda. But the two sides agreed to resume negotiations in January after the New Year holidays.
Since early May, over 900,000 people have fled their homes in the eastern Congo. Most of them have resettled in Congo, but tens of thousands have crossed into neighboring Rwanda and Uganda.Congo has faced numerous problems over the past few decades, such as grinding poverty, crumbling infrastructure, and a war in the east of the country that has dragged on since 1998 and left over 5.5 million people dead. GJH/HGL