Naharnet

DR Congo's M23 Rebel Chief in Ugandan Army Safe House

The military chief of Democratic Republic of Congo's defeated M23 rebels, Sultani Makenga, has been placed under military protection in the Ugandan capital, a Ugandan intelligence officer told Agence France Presse Tuesday.

"He is in a safe house in Kampala but for security reasons we cannot reveal the location," the officer said on condition of anonymity. He added that the Ugandan army "is providing necessary security".

Makenga is wanted by the authorities in neighboring DR Congo, and is accused of participating in several massacres, mutilations, abductions and sexual violence, sometimes against children. He is on both United Nations and United States sanctions lists.

He led the mainly ethnic-Tutsi M23 force, which mutinied from the Congolese army 18 months ago. He fled to Uganda earlier in November with virtually his entire rebel force after a bruising defeat at the hands of the Congolese army, backed by U.N. forces.

Uganda's defense spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Paddy Ankunda, said the fighters who fled with Makenga had been moved to a new site at Kasese, in western Uganda and close to the DRC border.

"We have under our protection 1,320 fighters of the M23," Ankunda told AFP, adding that rebel commanders were also in the camp, not only foot soldiers. "These were fighters, they had guns but we disarmed them."

Ugandan officers had initially said 1,500 or 1,700 men from the M23 had fled to Uganda, but many analysts considered that figure to be inflated.

The U.N. has accused both Uganda and neighboring Rwanda of backing the M23. Both countries have denied the charges.

DR Congo's U.N.-backed forces made short work of the M23 in a fresh offensive launched last month, and both sides had been expected to sign a peace deal last week.

However, the process collapsed at the last minute with the government rejecting the idea of signing a binding agreement with a defeated group.

Source: Agence France Presse


Copyright © 2012 Naharnet.com. All Rights Reserved. http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/106391