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Six Congolese rebels expelled

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KAMPALA, 25 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - Uganda has given six members of new rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo - the Congolese Revolutionary Movement - up to Thursday afternoon to leave the east African country or face arrest and prosecution, Interior Minister Ruhakana Rugunda has said.

"In the spirit of supporting security in the Great Lakes region and in support of the interim arrangement in the DRC, we decided that they leave Uganda in forty-eight hours," he said on Wednesday in Kampala, the Ugandan capital.

By declaring members of the group persona non grata, he said, Uganda was responding to recent complaints by the DRC government. He said a document existed, attributed to the group, "declaring war" on the DRC.

The countdown for the deportees to leave started Tuesday at 1600 (1300 GMT), Rugunda said, and their intended destination was unknown. "As to where they go from here is their business, but for us they should leave," he said.

The deportees were among the 14 rebels who came to Uganda between 12 and 15 June, he said. Eight of their colleagues left for unknown destination. In July, Uganda said it would not allow this or any other armed group to attack the Congo from its territory.

The rebel leaders had said they had formed their alliance to fight for the rights of people in the northeastern district of Ituri and North Kivu Province in the DRC. However, the Ugandan Army spokesman, Lt Col Shaban Bantariza, said the rebels wanted all their fighters integrated into the new Congolese military, and were in Uganda to ask the government to plead with the DRC, on their behalf.

"We told them that their complaint would be better heard if they endeavoured to be part of the government in Kinshasa," Bantariza added.


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