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Nkunda Insists He Controls Congo Rebels

The head of an eastern Congolese rebel group says he remains the group's leader, following a report that he was ousted by other rebel military commanders.

General Laurent Nkunda told VOA Swahili service in a telephone interview Tuesday that "there is no division" within the rebel National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP).

A spokesman for the rebels' military chief of staff, General Bosco Ntaganda says commanders fired Nkunda on Monday on account of "bad governance."

But Nkunda told VOA that Ntaganda is not CNDP spokesman or chairman.

Officers loyal to Nkunda say rebel leaders will meet Tuesday to discuss Ntaganda's fate.

The rebels captured a large area of Congo's North Kivu province after launching an offensive against government forces in August.

U.N.-sponsored peace talks between the sides have made little progress.

The CNDP rebels are ethnic Tutsis who say they are fighting to protect Tutsi communities against attacks by soldiers, militias and Hutu fighters responsible for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Ntaganda, known as "The Terminator," is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges that he recruited and deployed child soldiers during hostilities in Congo's Ituri province in 2002 and 2003.

His arrest warrant says at the time, he was military deputy chief of staff for a different rebel group, the FPLC. That group's leader, Thomas Lubanga, is currently in ICC custody and on trial for alleged war crimes.