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Official wants Congo rebels to disband

KAMPALA, Uganda — Peace talks with rebels in eastern Congo should end with the disbandment of the M23 rebel movement, Congo's foreign minister said Tuesday, declaring it a criminally minded organization that has caused suffering in the country.

Foreign Minister Raymond Tshibanda delivered his indictment of M23 on Tuesday after representatives of the group did not show up to a meeting Monday where the Congolese government delegation wanted to respond to earlier criticism by the rebels.

M23's executive secretary, Francois Rucogoza, charged on Sunday that the Congolese government lacked ''visionary leadership'' in a lengthy statement at the start of talks in the Ugandan capital, Kampala. The government delegation, which had already delivered a short, formal statement free of accusations, then said it had to respond to accusations of incompetence, xenophobia, and corruption before substantive talks could begin.


Tshibanda said Tuesday that he wanted the world to get ''the real picture of this armed group and what they do in the area.'' M23, he said, is a criminal organization whose leaders routinely use child soldiers to win wars and whose troops rape women and carry out summary executions in territories they control in eastern Congo.

He denied charges of xenophobia against Kinyarwanda-speaking Congolese — one of the strong criticisms raised by the rebels — saying his own peace delegation included some who were of Rwandan descent. Kinyarwanda is a dialect of Rwanda's main language.

Associated Press