Brigadier Sultani Makenga, the commander of the recently defeated M23 rebel group in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday morning surrendered to Uganda People’s Defence Forces in Kisoro, western Uganda pending transfer to a camp.
Reuters news agency says Uganda is holding the military commander quoting an unnamed government official. According to Reuters, Makenga surrendered on Wednesday.
News of the surrender was confirmed by Ugandan government spokesman Ofwono Opondo.
“1,600 M23 rebel soldiers have sundered to UPDF in Kisoro pending transfer to a camp” Ofwono stated in a tweet.
He added “There surrender demonstrates Uganda’s commitment to help facilitate the peace process in the DRC”
Ofwono also said that the “The surrender of M23 will lead to possible signing of Agreement Monday next week”
Makenga’s whereabouts had been unclear since Tuesday when rebel leader Bertrand Bisimwa issued a statement declaring the end of their 20-month-old insurgency against the government of President Joseph Kabila.
Bisimwa said the rebels would seek political talks, hours after Congolese troops routed them from their positions with the support of a United Nations Intervention Brigade comprised of Tanzanian and South African forces.
Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, the Ugandan army and defence spokesperson, however, told local media that he is aware of some 1,700 M23 fighters who have surrendered since Tuesday but not Makenga himself. The fighters are currently being held in Mgahinga near the Uganda-D R Congo border.
Uganda has been hosting peace talks between the rebels and the DR Congo government.