November 10, 2008

Congolese Government Overthrow Threatened

Military rebel Laurent Nkunda repeated his threat to overthrow the Democratic Republic of Congo government unless talks are conducted.

The general said his forces were observing a cease-fire, retaliating only when attacked, the BBC reported. Nkunda and fighters loyal to him have been battling the army and pro-government militia in the eastern part of the African country.

Congolese President Joseph Kabila has ruled out direct talks with Nkunda so far, saying they would be unconstitutional; Nkunda said negotiations would resolve the crisis

"If he (Kabila) refuses to talk now he will not be able to rule Congo and to lead it," Nkunda told the British broadcaster. "We have to liberate Congo. Congo has to be free and to develop."

Nkunda said he is waging a battle to protect the Tutsi community from attacks by Rwandan Hutu rebels, who fled to the Congo after Rwanda's 1994 genocide.

Meanwhile, a group of southern African nations says combatants in the Congo must stop fighting and open humanitarian avenues.

Meeting Sunday in Johannesburg, members of the Southern African Development Community said they would send military advisers to Congo's northeastern Kivu region, where government troops and pro-Kinsasha Mai Mai militias are battling rebel Tutsi forces, The New York Times reported.

"We firmly believe that there is no military solution to the problem," South African President Kgalema Motlanthe said in a communique. "We call for an immediate cease-fire to allow humanitarian assistance to the displaced people."