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DRC Rebels Condemn Government Over ICC Warrant

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the National Congress for the People’s Defense rebel group led by General Laurent Nkunda says it has no confidence in President Joseph Kabila’s government. This comes after the rebels accused the government of working with the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue an arrest warrant against one of the rebel leaders.

The ICC Tuesday issued the arrest warrant against Bosco Ntaganda, who is known as “The Terminator,” for enlisting and training child soldiers and other crimes. But the rebels say the warrant undermines the recently signed ceasefire with the government, adding that they no longer trust President Kabila’s government. Freelance reporter Jack Kahora covers the Democratic Republic of Congo for the Voice of America. From the capital Kinshasa, he tells reporter Peter Clottey that Congolese are worried that a lack of trust could be detrimental to the fragile peace in the North Kivu province.

“The fact for Congolese, and especially for those who are in the eastern part of the DRC where presently there is peace, is fear, because in January 23 2008, there was a peace deal which was signed. And it was singed because there were clashes between the government and the armed groups, especially the group that Bosco Ntaganda belongs to that is the group of Laurent Nkunda, who is well known. According to the people in northern Congo, they were sure that if they could keep silent for a moment and wait until peace can advance, they would have a kind of progress so that they can then launch such an arrest warrant,” he noted.

Kahora concurs that an arrest warrant against the rebels could hamper the fragile peace currently being enjoyed by the people in North Kivu province.

“Really this seems to now block the peace process, which has been launched in North Kivu in January,” he said.

Kahora said the rebels hinted to him that they have no confidence in President Kabila’s government over the arrest warrants.

“According to the people that I talked to, they seem to show that they are no more confident in the government. They said that in fact, the government should react because the government of Congo launched a peace process and it should support it to the end. According to the rebels, it is as if the government itself is co-operating with the ICC so that those groups can be arrested,“ Kahora pointed out.

He said the rebels are apprehensive that any promises made to them would be to their detriment and would raise their insecurity.

“The rebels think that even if they were promised amnesty, this doesn’t’ grant them any guarantee…that they can be arrested later. There is a fear that their situation may be affected by the ICC later on, so they are no longer confident in the government and the peace process they signed,” he said.