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DRC Rebels Pull Out of Truce With Government

Rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo are unanimously withdrawing from the cessation of hostilities agreement with President Joseph Kabila's government today (Friday). Some military experts say the move could further worsen the country's instability, especially in the restive North Kivu province. The rebels are also accusing the United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) of bias and siding with President Joseph Kabila's government. This comes after renegade army General Laurent Nkunda reportedly said his rebel group is ready to expand and liberate the whole of Congo. But the government dismissed Nkunda's remarks as irresponsible.

Jack Kahora is the VOA correspondent in the Democratic Republic of Congo. From the capital of North Kivu province, Goma he tells reporter Peter Clottey Congolese are in panic mode after the rebels decided to pull out of the peace agreement Thursday.

"As you know all the groups, which signed the ceasefire in January are withdrawing from the peace process. In fact the disengagement is today Friday, it means they would withdraw from the place where they are and thus abandoning the camps where they should be to be trained and be reintegrated into the national army. But they said they would not join the process because the coordinator of the ARMANI program is elaborating the program himself without consulting with the rebels and alienating them. The rebel also said that they have not been paid since they began working in the process about four months ago," Kahora said.

He said the rebels are claiming insecurity as the cause for their action.

"The rebels say they are afraid that their soldiers would die of hunger if they remain the camps because there has been no help from the ARMANI organizer to take care of them as stipulated in the agreement and as such they cannot accept the situation anymore," he noted.

Kahora said Congolese are expressing displeasure after renegade General Laurent Nkunda declared to take his rebel insurgency nationwide.

"It's really a crucial question and up till now people are in Goma, especially where I'm based now for the moment are wondering what the situation would become because the crisis is really very big. If you have to see the number of IDP's (Internally Displaced People) today, and if you see the situation, which is prevailing in the whole region, it is really a disorder. And nobody knows what is going on or how the situation is going to get worse or how it is going to be resolved," Kahora pointed out.

He said the United Nations mission in the country is not in the best position to resolve the imminent military crisis after the rebels pull out of the peace process.

"We know that MONUC itself cannot solve such a problem, which is really very huge. There is humanitarian problem, but also there is war and insecurity and this makes the problem really huge. And there is another issues which is the economic issue which is a problem too," he said.

Kahora said reactions over Nkunda's remark of taking over the country has been mixed.

"In fact in the whole country there have been so many reactions. Most people condemn what Nkunda has said because they feel Nkunda want s fight the government because the government does not fight the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda). People also think Nkunda will fight the FDLR and also fight the government or just join the government to fight the FDLR. But there are some other people who think that this is really something that is positive in the sense that the government seems not to be strong to neutralize the eastern part of the DRC, especially, elected President Kabila and the government because people were sure that he was going to bring peace to the eastern part of the country, but yet after too long years nothing has been done, there is no change," Kahora pointed out.