Congolese government says no negotiations with the rebels unless they withdraw from Goma

epa03486601 Congolese government soldiers aboard a pick up truck leave their headquarters to escort Lieutenant General Olenga Francois in the town of Minova, some 45km from the provincial capital Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, 25 November 2012. The Congolese government was in talks with representatives of the M23 rebel group in Ugandan capital Kampala on 25 November, a day after the country’s president Joseph Kabila met with the M23 for the first time. Lieutenant General Olenga Francois of the Congolese army told journalists on 25 November that his government does not need to be afraid of the rebels. ‘We have many soldiers and weapons. We will not forgive them and there will be no negotiations with traitors (M23)’. Commander Kapitula Balikafa Elie of the Mai Mai militia group also told journalists that his group ‘will fight to kick Rwandans (M23) out of Goma and his country’. ‘We used to fight against the government but now we are helping them to fight against the rebels, to save our country from Rwanda’. The M23 rebel group, who has taken control of Goma and nearby town of Sake already, has advanced to the next town of Kirotshe, only about 10km away from Minova where Congolese government forces have retreated to. African leaders from the Great Lakes region including Congolese President Joseph Kabila began talks over Congo on 24 November, but Paul Kagame of Rwanda who has been widely accused of supporting the M23 rebels, did not attend the meeting. EPA/DAI KUROKAWA

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