Congo rebel commander being held in Uganda, says officer

Sultani Makenga’s whereabouts had been unclear since M23 ended insurgency

Congolese children play on a military tank, abandoned by the M23 rebel fighters who surrendered in Kibumba, near the eastern town of Goma on Wednesday.  Photograph: Reuters/Kenny Katombe

Congolese children play on a military tank, abandoned by the M23 rebel fighters who surrendered in Kibumba, near the eastern town of Goma on Wednesday. Photograph: Reuters/Kenny Katombe

Fri, Nov 8, 2013, 01:08

Uganda says it is holding the military commander of Congo’s defeated M23 rebel movement after he surrendered, allaying fears that it could still take up arms again.

Sultani Makenga’s whereabouts had been unclear since Tuesday’s declaration by the M23 that it was ending its 20- month-old insurgency in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, worrying some that he could be hiding with plans to regroup.

His surrender will be seen as a major achievement for the Congolese army, with the backing of a UN force, as it strives to restore calm in a region racked by war for two decades.

Analysts however have warned against too much optimism for a sustained peace in the east of the vast nation, where the M23 was only one of several armed groups in the mineral-rich region.

A senior Ugandan officer, who asked not to be named, said: “He surrendered to us yesterday [Wednesday] and we’re holding him somewhere and some other commanders of his.” He said the group of rebels would be held at an undisclosed location until a peace agreement was signed.

The Congolese government had no immediate comment.

The M23 group declared an end to its military campaign and said it would seek political talks after Congolese troops routed them from their hide- outs with the support of a UN force of African troops with a mandate to intervene.

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