Matata Ponyo said that the Congolese president agreed to meet with the rebels in order to hear their demands and in a good faith effort to avoid bloodshed. In the early months of the rebellion, the M23 said that the Congolese government had not paid them well, and had discriminated against people from the Tutsi ethnicity, which makes up the bulk of their ranks. A U.N. report released last week, however, said that the rebels were backed by Rwanda, and to a lesser extent Uganda, and most likely were fighting for a greater share of Congo's mineral riches.
Matata Ponyo said that things like greater pay are on the table, but Congo's territorial integrity is off limits.
"These are borders that were drawn in Berlin in 1885. More than 100 years have passed — no. It's not negotiable," he said.
Callimachi reported from Dakar, Senegal. Associated Press writer Rodney Muhumuza in Kampala, Uganda and, Africa chief photographer Jerome Delay in Minova and Goma, Congo, contributed to this report.