Armed groups in the restive North Kivu
province of the Democratic Republic of Congo are threatening to withdraw from a
ceasefire agreement with Kinshasa vowing to once again begin their insurgency
today (Wednesday). One of the armed groups has reportedly abandoned plans to be
reintegrated into the national army, accusing President Joseph Kabila's government
of reneging on its promises to take care of the former combatants. Residents of
the restive North Kivu province are worried that the refusal of the various
armed groups to join the national army could plunge the troubled region into
yet another armed conflict. Didier Bitaki is the spokesman for the Mai Mai
armed group. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that members of his group are
upset at what he said is the obtuse treatment meted out to them by Kinshasa.
are not happy because in January 2008, we signed a peace agreement after the
conference in Goma. And during the peace process which was attended by all the
parties involved in that conflict we all agreed that we integrate our troops
into the regular army and then the government can take them on so that the
process can be a success. But unfortunately, it has been more than one year
since we signed the deal without doing anything," Bitaki said.
said the group's former combatants were targeted despite signing a ceasefire
agreement with Kinshasa.
the joint operation began with Rwandan forces, they started attacking our
people and that affected the integration process. So, while the integration was
going on our group was forgotten by the government and for us we thought the
government took a decision which did not benefit us, but it hurt as a great
deal. So, we decided to take our fate into our own hands because the government
is not doing enough to ensure that everybody that signed the deal is take care
off. So, we thought that we are not sure things are going well on our side," he
said Kinshasa has refused to adhere to the demands of the ceasefire agreement
despite constant reminders from the rebel group.
have already expressed our concerns to all who would listen to us even in
different meetings. We had meetings March 23 and during that time I even
advised General Mayara and the coordinator of the ARMANI program Mr. Malu Malu
and the international community representative, but they didn't do anything
about our concerns. And that is the reason why we don't have a choice but to
take the action that we are taking right now," Bitaki noted.
said one of the options is to re-arm and restart the insurgency all over again.
we think the best choice would be to retraining our troops and give them the
means to take their responsibility. So we are very angry and you can see the
reason why because the government failed to keep its part of the agreement we
signed over a year ago. Unfortunately, it is the ordinary people who would be
hurt but it would be the fault of the government. We are very angry," he said.
reiterated that the rebels' next line of action is to take up arms.
we are going to do is that we have troops and the troops have guns so they are
not going to stay anymore in a place chosen by the government so that they
would be integrated into the army from there. Unfortunately, the government has
forgotten about them and that is why they are suffering. We have more than
three thousand troops with one thousand six hundred weapons and that is a
warning to the government otherwise it would be a problem for the population…
if the government attacks us we will defend ourselves," Bitaki pointed out.