- Title: DR CONGO: President Kabila tells rebel fighters to rejoin army
- Date: 14th September 2007
- Summary: VARIOUS OF REBELS IN KITSHANGA
- Embargoed: 29th September 2007 13:00
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAA3ATIINSVHPY67Y469GI8M6XG
- Story Text: President Joseph Kabila told renegade soldiers in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to rejoin the national army or face forcible disarmament.
Fighters loyal to rebel Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda have left the mixed Congolese national army brigades they had joined as part of a January peace deal and have clashed with government forces in heavy fighting over the past few weeks.
Nkunda, who first led a revolt in 2004, says he is fighting to protect his Tutsi people in eastern Congo against attacks by largely Hutu FDLR Rwandan rebels, including former Interahamwe fighters accused of involvement in Rwanda's 1994 genocide.
The violence in the province of North Kivu near the central African country's border with Rwanda has forced thousands of civilians to flee.
"We saw a lot of FDLR and Mai Mai coming and threatening us in our villages, they looted and raped our wives, when we realised we were in danger, we fled to come here and to be protected by the rebels," Franck Mwasi who fled to Kitshanga village, which is in the area under Nkunda's control.
United Nations peacekeepers brokered an uneasy ceasefire in North Kivu a week ago but the fighting has alarmed neighbouring countries in the volatile Great Lakes region, including Rwanda.
Rwanda has twice invaded Congo, the last time triggering a 1998-2003 war there that killed some 4 million people, mostly from hunger and disease.
Nkunda accuses Kabila's government of directly supporting the FDLR insurgents, who are blamed for murders and rape across eastern Congo.
"If Nkunda resists or refuses to go to the reintegration centres, what will the government reaction be? It is clear. The authority of the state must be re-established in the east by all possible means," Kabila told a news conference in the capital Kinshasa.
Analysts believe Kabila may be trying to crush Nkunda militarily, anxious to pacify the vast, mineral-rich former Belgian colony after his victory in landmark elections late last year.
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