The Democratic Republic of Congo?s information minister has denied accusations his government has failed to fully implement a peace agreement signed in March with both Pareco and the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) rebel groups.
Lambert Mende described those accusing the government as ?bandits? who he said have committed various forms of atrocities against unarmed Congolese over the years.
?I know that we are having a lot of members of the Mai Mai movement who have joined our army and (those) who have joined civilian life, and are living as normal citizens who are respecting the law, as well as the CNDP members. And, CNDP has a political entity totally separated (from) those former officers or army men from the former CNDP rebel group that does not exist (any) more.?
He added, ?When you talk about Mai Mai, those who are remaining out of the integration system are bandits. Those who you know are raping, killing, raping our sisters in the east (of Congo); we are considering them as criminals.?
Members of both rebel groups accuse the government of abdicating its responsibility by failing to implement the peace agreement despite repeated reminders.
The rebels have threatened to abandon the peace accord with the administration and begin another round of insurgency if Kinshasa continues to refuse to implement the agreement.
But, Mende said that his government has kept its side of the agreement.
?We are not interested in statements from criminals who are wanted for justice,? Mende said.