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Fri Dec 19 05:13:52 SAST 2014

AU calls on M3 rebels to cease fire

Sapa-AFP | 26 November, 2012 00:29
Children displaced by the recent fighting in Goma, eastern DRC, next to their family's makeshift shelter near the town Picture: JAMES AKENA/REUTERS

The African Union yesterday called on rebels occupying a key town in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to stop fighting as diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis continued amid fears of wider conflict in the unstable region.

The AU echoed a call by regional heads of state at a summit on Saturday for the M23 rebels to stop fighting and withdraw from the regional capital, Goma. It welcomed a commitment by the DRC government to deal with the rebels' grievances.

AU chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma "welcomes the commitment of the government of the DRC to listen to, evaluate and resolve any legitimate grievances of the M23. She urges the M23 immediately to take the steps expected of it,'' the AU said.

"The summit . outlined a 10-point plan that provides for the immediate withdrawal of the M23 elements from all the locations they recently occupied, as well as the establishment of security arrangements to monitor the situation on the ground."

Dlamini-Zuma reiterated the "AU's deep concern at the worsening humanitarian situation and the abuses committed against the civilian populations".

The political leader of M23, Jean-Marie Runiga Lugerero, said he expected to hold more talks later yesterday with DRC President Joseph Kabila. Lugerero and Kabila met on Saturday night after the summit of the 11-member International Conference on the Great Lakes.

It is not known if the new talks have begun.

Uncertainty hung over the fate of Goma, the capital of the restive province of North Kivu.

Leaders attending Saturday's summit in the Ugandan capital said the rebels should withdraw to positions at least 20kmnorth of the town, which the guerrillas - former soldiers who mutinied and then deserted in April - seized on Tuesday.

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