M23 Set Mountain Of Demands Before Pulling Out Of Goma

sickness geneva;”>The rebel outfit’s political leader Jean-Marie Runiga has told journalists Tuesday that before quitting Goma, seek DRC president Joseph Kabila must immediately release political prisoners.

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case geneva;”>Runiga further called upon Kabila to announce a clear road map for talks between his government and M23 leaders.

Another demand is access to Étienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba, a politician who leads the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), an opposition political party in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Tshisekedi and his UDPS party boycotted the 2006 elections organized in Congo claiming that the elections were fraudulent and were already systematically rigged in advance and was later put under unofficial house arrest.

The huge demands come just a few hours after Uganda Chief of Defence Forces Gen Aronda Nyakairima said he received assurances from M23 military leader Col Sultan Makenga during a meeting in Kampala on Monday that they would pull out of captured areas.

On Saturday afternoon, regional leaders of the Great Lakes region urged M23 to withdraw from current positions to the ground of tactical importance not less than 20km from Goma town within two days.

Runiga and Kabila held talks after the Summit but sources say it was “acrimonious” as Runiga told off Kabila that he would get toppled “soon” if he pursued the path of war.

M23 President further said they would give truce “a chance” if Kabila was willing not to “play tricks” and showed determination to address their “legitimate grievances.”

During today’s press conference, Runiga accused Kabila of dishonesty and falling short of holding broad negotiations with the opposition, Civil Society and Congolese in Diaspora.

The combatants, who have threatened to topple Kabila, also called for a fresh investigation into the atrocities committed by fired DRC army boss, Gen Amisi and “his circle.”

They further said CENI, Congo’s Electoral Commission, should be immediately disbanded because of corruption and serving interests of one man – Kabila.

Runiga said pulling out of Goma is possible but would be determined by the manner in which DRC responds to their demands.

However, said Runiga, M23 would maintain “political presence” in the strategic provincial town of Kivu.

He further stated that M23 reserve a right to launch counter offensive operations when attacked by DRC forces.

Uganda is yet to respond to Runiga’s latest statements but Congo government spokesman Lambert Mende has been quoted as saying the rebel demands are a “farce.”

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