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Renegade General Says Troops Have Withdrawn From Bukavu - 2004-06-04

A renegade commander say he has withdrawn his troops from the Democratic Republic of Congo's eastern city, Bukavu, Friday, while in the capital, Kinshasa, mobs continued demonstrating against the United Nation's failure to prevent the fall of Bukavu.

The leader of the renegade fighters who seized Bukavu earlier this week, General Laurent Nkunda, says he has withdrawn most of his troops, but still remains in control of the city near the border with Rwanda.

?Well, I think today the situation is very calm because we have withdrawn our troops out of the town,? general Nkunda said. ?We are seeing some patrol to insure the security of the population. The government asked for us to withdraw the troops for the delegation to come to Bukavu to investigate according to what passed, what we say was Banyamulenge genocide.?

General Nkunda says his troops overran Bukavu on Wednesday after hearing reports that 27 members of the Tutsi ethnic minority tribe Banyamulenge had been persecuted there.

He says he took control to force the Congolese transitional government to investigate the reports.

He also says the government should have prevented rioters in the capital from staging violent anti-U.N. protests.

?Now what's happening in Kinshasa and other towns is an irresponsibility. It's a lack of power, a lack of management. They are making confusion,? general Nkunda explained. ?When they are attacking MONUC [the UN peacekeeping force in DRC] it's a confusion. The good thing is to let MONUC do their work because MONUC is our ally. If they want peace they can let MONUC do their work. We cannot accept to violate the U.N.?

U.N. peacekeepers are in the Democratic Republic of Congo to help the government with the implementation of a peace accord signed last year to end five years of civil war.

The U.N. spokesman in Kinshasa, Hamadoun Toure, says demonstrations continued Friday, but that police have regained control of the area around the U.N. operation there.

?They are demonstrating. Some people are demonstrating again in the city,? Mr. Toure said. ?Apparently there are less people and President Kabila made a nationwide address last night saying MONUC was here to assist the transition government achieve its goals and we hope that this will make a difference.?

He says three people died in Thursday's rioting while attempting to break into a U.N. warehouse.