Congo's President in Uganda for talks on stalled peace deal

KAMPALA Mon Dec 2, 2013 7:53am EST

1 of 3. Soldiers clear the way for Democratic Republic of Congo's President Joseph Kabila (not pictured) as he makes his way through a street in Goma, a town in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, November 30, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Kenny Katombe

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KAMPALA (Reuters) - The Democratic Republic of Congo's president, Joseph Kabila, flew into Uganda on Monday for talks aimed at reviving a peace deal between his government and rebel fighters, a Ugandan official said.

Kinshasa and the M23 rebels failed to seal a deal last month after wrangling over what it should be called - the rebels were ready to sign a peace agreement, but Congo's negotiators wanted to call it a declaration reflecting the rebels' defeat.

"I think (Kabila) wants to breathe new life into the process ... Uganda would implore DRC to sign this agreement with the rebels," Uganda government spokesman, Ofwono Opondo, told Reuters.

M23 are the latest incarnation of Tutsi-led insurgents who have fought Congo's government in eastern regions near the border with Uganda and Rwanda for years, amid unrest fuelled by ethnicity, local politics and competition over land and mineral wealth.

When November's deal was called off at the eleventh hour, Congo blamed mediator Uganda, accusing it of supporting the rebels.

The Kinshasa government's accusations against neighboring Uganda and its failure to conclude a political deal highlight the deep-rooted regional tensions that are complicating efforts to end Congo's most serious rebellion in a decade.

Kabila's visit to Uganda, where he will meet with his Ugandan counterpart, Yoweri Museveni, comes after a 10-day tour of the main towns in eastern Congo.

During a November 26 stop in Bunia, a town in Congo's far northeast, U.N.-backed Radio Okapi reported Kabila said he believed a solution to the dialogue with M23 could be completed by December 15.

Kabila reiterated Kinshasa's position that Congo was seeking a statement from the rebels declaring the end of the movement. M23, however, has sought an "agreement" with the government.

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Richard Lough and Andrew Heavens)

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