In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the spokesman for the Mai Mai armed group says President Joseph Kabila’s government has failed to meet their demands for ministerial positions after integrating into the national army.
Didier Bitaki said the ex-combatants are concerned about the government’s refusal to fully implement the political integration agreement signed last year between the former rebels and the Kabila administration.
“Since one year now (that) we signed the peace agreement in Goma…the government is not making any action to integrate the political leaders such as myself. We are afraid and very anxious that there is a team of people that (have) confiscated the power in Kinshasa and they don’t want anybody to get there…if they don’t (resolve the problem) we will take action,” he said.
The Mai Mai Kifuafua is reportedly the last armed group to join the Congolese national army (FARDC) after years of insurgencies.
The group has often accused President Kabila's government of giving preferential treatment to the National Congress for People's Defense (CNDP) rebels in the implementation of a recently signed peace agreement - - a charge Kinshasa denies.
Bitaki said the rebels deserve ministerial positions that the government promised under last year’s political integration agreement.
“We are right to ask for it because we are Congolese. Because in the defense (ministry) there is a mistake in the economy there is a mistake. For example in the finance nothing is going on. So, how long are we going to stay in such situation? So, for us…we take guns to change things in Congo if they don’t want to change,” Bitaki said.
The former combatants are currently demanding four ministerial positions in President Kabila’s government.
But Information Minister Lambert Mende said the rebels should focus on forming a legitimate political party to participate in next year’s election just like all the other political parties.
“You just don’t grab a ministry just like that. You must come from a party. We have a constitution (and) nobody can go into the government just because he was fighting somewhere. No. they must transform to a political party as did the CNDP. They register themselves at the Internal Affairs ministry and join a coalition. They can join the majority coalition which is now assuming the power,” Mende said.
Bitaki said the rebels would take up arms if Kinshasa refuses to address their concerns. But information minister Mende said the government does not kowtow to threats.
“When the government tells you that we accept you to be politically integrated under the constitution what do you think it means? When the constitution is forcing anybody who wants a political job to do it through a political party… we won’t violate our own constitution because some of our brothers were fighting with guns,” Mende said.