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D.R. Congo Rebel Leader Calls for International Support for Peace Process


In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the rebel leader of the National Congress for the People’s Defense, General Laurent Nkunda is calling for international support to preserve the recently signed ceasefire with the Kinshasa government. This comes after President Joseph Kabila urged the eradication of rebel groups blamed for the instability in the country’s volatile eastern region. But General Nkunda said the government should be blamed for the violence, since it was government troops that first attacked his rebel force. Nkunda adds that not only is war useless to the rebels, but that this war does not resolve any issue.

From North Kivu province, General Nkunda tells reporter Peter Clottey that it’s only through negotiations could there be a lasting peace in country.

“I’m asking to the international community to support our peace process. We were in a peace process in Kigali, but we didn’t get any support from the international community and from Kinshasa. That is why for me, I’m asking to the international community to take this time now to be involved totally in the peace process for one time in Congo. Then I’m asking to the authorities in Kinshasa and to the national community to support this peace process. We are ready to negotiate, let us be understood,” Nkunda noted.

He said although he was not sure when the aborted peace process, which was held in Kigali, would resume, he blames the Kinshasa government’s forces for the violence in the northeastern part of the country.

“For us you know, this war was imposed by this government. It is not our way to resolve our problems because since January we were in a peace process after the negotiation of Kigali. But the government didn’t respect those agreements. So for us, we were waiting for the peace process, peace talks, and until now that is why we are claiming for a cease-fire because this war is useless for us because if you see how we managed to side with the forces since January until today, it gives us hope that through negotiation, through talks, we can get peace for long,” he said.

Nkunda said he was glad the Kinshasa government tried to initiate the recent ceasefire.

“When I heard that the government has asked MONUC (United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo) to get a ceasefire from our side, it was for me a good idea even if we were advantage on the ground. But for us it was a good thing to get that position of the government,” Nkunda pointed out.

He denied his forces were to blame for the attack that forced scores of villagers to abscond to neighboring countries.

“We were not attacking. I think you can verify from other journalists in Congo. We were attacked. We were not attacking. We were reacting on the government’s attack, and we resisted them,” he said.

Nkunda said although they reported the attack to MONUC, they declined to take any action, citing their primary role was not to meddle in the internal affairs of the country.

“We have told MONUC on those attacks, but MONUC was saying that they are only observing and they didn’t have any position to take. But today when we occupied Sake to defeat the government forces, MONUC asked us to be back from Sake. And they said that they are going to create a buffer zone so as to get a ceasefire for a time and then see if we can maintain it and go to negotiations,” he noted.

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