DR Congo, rebels complete review of 2009 peace deal

The government of Democratic Republic of Congo and M23 rebels holding peace talks in Kampala on Wednesday finalised a review of an earlier failed deal, a first step towards reaching a peace accord.

"The government of the DRC and M23 considered and adopted the report on the peace agreement of 23 March 2009," said Ugandan Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga, who is mediating the talks.

Disagreements over the implementation of the 2009 pact, which put an end to an earlier rebellion, sparked a mutiny last year that saw rebels seize swathes of territory in a lightning advance, sparking fears of a wider conflict.

Kiyonga said that both sides agreed that 20 of the 2009 accord's 35 original provisions were either only partially implemented or not implemented, but that the pact remained "relevant".

He did not specify which provisions had not been fulfilled or whether they would now be implemented.

The two sides -- who began negotiations in Kampala in mid-December -- will now move on to discussing security issues in the volatile eastern Congo, Kiyonga said, including the possible reintegration of the mutineers into the national army.

Uganda is hosting the talks despite accusations that it -- as well as Rwanda -- has backed the fighters, claims that both countries have strongly denied.

Although the M23 rebels were persuaded to withdraw from the key eastern city of Goma after a 12-day occupation, they still control large areas of territory just outside the strategic mining hub.

The negotiations are the latest in several bids to end a long-running conflict that has forced hundreds of thousands of people in eastern DR Congo from their homes.

DR Congo's east, which borders Rwanda and Uganda, was the cradle of back-to-back wars that drew in much of the region from 1996 to 2003. They were fought largely over its vast wealth of gold, coltan and cassiterite, key components in electronic goods.