M23 rebel leader heads to Kampala for talks

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iol pic afr DRC AFP File photo: This photo taken on July 8, 2012, shows Colonel Sultani Makenga, head of the rebel M23 group, looking on from a hill in Bunagana, a town near the Ugandan border.

Kampala - The leader of the Democratic Republic of Congo's M23 rebel group Colonel Sultani Makenga is travelling to the Ugandan capital Kampala for talks at the invitation of the head of the Ugandan military, a rebel spokesman said on Monday.

Congolese President Joseph Kabila met M23 for the first time at the weekend after a summit in Uganda where regional leaders gave the rebels two days to leave the eastern Congo city of Goma, which the rebels seized last week after UN-backed government troops melted away.

Congo said it would not negotiate with the rebels until they pulled out of Goma, but the rebels said the government was in no position to set conditions on peace talks.

“Makenga's on his way to Kampala, he has been invited by the military chief of Uganda,” rebel spokesman Amani Kabasha told Reuters by phone from an undisclosed location.

The Ugandan military said it could not immediately confirm Makenga's visit but that it was probable since Uganda's chief of defence forces, Aronda Nyakayirima, was apparently coordinating M23's withdrawal.

“I am not aware of his arrival but I wouldn't be surprised if he were here because meetings have been going on and since Aronda has been tasked to coordinate the withdrawal (from Goma) he would need to talk to him (Makenga),” military spokesman Felix Kulayigye said.

A diplomat said the African Union was due to hold a Peace and Security Council meeting later on Monday to discuss the crisis. - Reuters

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