Submit this form
Home News Videos Music Photos Facebook Twitter Newsletter Podcasts Mobile RSS
Dissident general wants his troops in national army


Laurent Nkunda, the dissident army general, agreed to participate in talks with the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo on two conditions: that troops loyal to him be integrated into the national army; and that the government ensure the protection and rights of all Kinyarwanda-speakers, most of whom live in eastern Congo.
©  Aimable Twahirwa/IRIN

Kinyarwanda-speaking Laurent Nkunda, a rebellious Congolese general, now sueing for peace

MASISI, 23 Jan 2007 (IRIN) - Laurent Nkunda, the dissident army general, agreed to participate in talks with the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo on two conditions: that troops loyal to him be integrated into the national army; and that the government ensure the protection and rights of all Kinyarwanda-speakers, most of whom live in eastern Congo.

"We want to join the peace initiative," Nkunda said on Saturday during an interview at his headquarters in the mountainous region of Masisi in eastern Congo. "But, initially, what we want is an assurance that our people are protected and that they enjoy their rights like any other Congolese citizen."

The talks, between Nkunda's rebel movement, known as Congrès national pour la défense du peuple (CNDP), and the Congolese army, have been going on in Kigali since early January under the mediation of the Rwandan government. Nkunda established the CNDP officially in July 2006, during a meeting attended by members of the public, senior military commanders and politicians of the rebel movement at Nyamitaba village in Masisi.

If agreement is reached between Nkunda's group and the government, it could stabilise areas where tens of thousands of civilians have periodically been displaced and affected by insecurity and atrocities, caused by his and other armed groups. 

Since 2004, Nkunda has led a low-level rebellion against the Congolese government, mostly in North Kivu province, in a bid to stop what he has termed the persecution of Kinyarwanda-speaking Congolese, known as the Rwandophones, who originally came from Rwanda.

The Kinyarwanda-speaking Nkunda, also known as Nkundabatware, was born in 1967 in Masisi in North Kivu. He was trained at Gabiro military camp in northeastern Rwanda before joining the Congolese rebel movement of the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie - RCD-Goma in 1998, where he immediately became commander of the Seventh Brigade of the rebel forces.

Nkunda controls an estimated 2,000 men, most of whom are Rwandophones who deserted from the national army. Most of the fighting between Nkunda's men and the army took place near Goma, the capital of North Kivu, and caused the displacement of thousands of civilians. The latest flare-up in December 2006 displaced another 15,000.

On the integration of his troops into the national army, Nkunda said the talks would succeed if all his fighters were to be integrated under the army command based in the DRC capital, Kinshasa.

The integration of other former rebel movements into the national army has proven complicated, since most former rebel movements have remained autonomous in relation to the central government in Kinshasa, especially in the eastern region. So far, only a few militia and rebel units have been integrated into the army; progress has been slow because some former rebels have refused to obey the chief of the general staff in Kinshasa.

Nkunda's rebellion has dominated North Kivu, especially along the road connecting Goma to Sake trading centre, 20km west of Goma, which is under the control of the CNDP. It is here, where Kinyarwanda-speaking Congolese are the majority, that Nkunda has declared himself liberator of the people, whom he claims have been oppressed because of their Rwandan origin.

However, with the start of the talks between the CNDP and the Congolese government, Nkunda has softened his stance and has said he is willing to accept the integration of his troops into the national army.

"This action will be done under guarantee to reassure the protection of the Kinyarwanda-speaking population," Nkunda told IRIN at his CNDP headquarters.

"We agreed to be reintegrated into the government troops, the two parties in the negotiations have agreed on the creation of two mixed units comprising the CNDP rebel troops and other elements from the government army," he added.

Asked what action he would take if the negotiations failed, Nkunda said: "We do not want a war; we want to protect our population. We do not want to cause any disruption but if the enemy wants it, we are ready for confrontation."

He said it was important for government leaders to recognise and take into account past killings targeting Kinyarwanda-speaking Congolese and to ensure that this is not repeated in future. He said the exclusionist policy of past Congolese administrations "to divide and rule" had been a mistake that the current administration should avoid.

"And if the same insecurity persists, any peace agreement reached would be fragile," Nkunda said.


@Congoplanet |

Related articles

  1. Bosco Ntaganda Attacked Civilians on Ethnic Grounds, ICC Prosecutor Says (February 10, 2014)
  2. DR Congo Asks Rwanda to Turn Over M23 Rebel Leaders (July 26, 2013)
  3. M23 Rebels Kill, Rape Civilians in Eastern Congo: Human Rights Watch (July 22, 2013)
  4. Bosco Ntaganda in the International Criminal Court's custody (March 22, 2013)
  5. Warlord Bosco Ntaganda Turns Himself In at US Embassy in Rwanda (March 18, 2013)
  6. The M23 Rebels Want to Overthrow Kabila? Nonsense (November 28, 2012)
  7. DR Congo, Rwanda Sign Pact to Fight Rebels in Eastern Congo (July 15, 2012)
  8. Kagame Is A Problem for The U.S. and The U.K. (June 23, 2012)
  9. US blocking UN report on Ntaganda rebels, Human Rights Watch says (June 21, 2012)
  10. Congo Government Says Bosco Ntaganda Rebels Trained in Rwanda (June 10, 2012)
  11. Congo Army Advances On Rebels Holdout, Says Official (June 5, 2012)
  12. Rwanda Should Stop Aiding War Crimes Suspect Bosco Ntaganda: Human Rights Watch (June 4, 2012)
  13. UN Report Accuses Rwanda of Supporting Bosco Ntaganda Rebels (May 28, 2012)
  14. ICC Prosecutor Seeks New Charges Against Ntaganda, FDLR Leader (May 14, 2012)
  15. Army Suspends Military Operations Against Ntaganda Loyalists (May 6, 2012)
  16. Kabila Insists on Military Discipline as Mutiny Fades (April 11, 2012)
  17. Kabila, Army Chief of Staff head to eastern Congo to deal with defectors (April 10, 2012)
  18. DR Congo Government Warns Bosco Ntaganda He May Face Justice (April 6, 2012)
  19. Kabila Confident He Will Win Re-Election (October 18, 2011)
  20. Controversy over "conflict minerals" law (August 2, 2011)
  21. Rights Groups: Strengthen Civilian Protection Before Elections (June 9, 2011)
  22. Army colonel gets 20 years for ordering mass rape in eastern Congo (February 21, 2011)
  23. UN Sanctions FDLR Leaders, CNDP Rebel Commander Integrated into Army (December 2, 2010)
  24. UN Report: CNDP, Congolese Soldiers Involved in Illegal Mining Operations (November 30, 2010)
  25. Rebel leader presumed responsible for mass rape arrested (October 5, 2010)
  26. Huge DR Congo gold mine to open, displacing 15,000 (July 22, 2010)
  27. Ex-rebels take over mineral trade extortion racket (March 11, 2010)
  28. DR Congo says ex-rebel chief Nkunda to be extradited from Rwanda in 2010 (January 18, 2010)
  29. Final report of the UN Group of Experts on the DRC released (December 7, 2009)
  30. Global minerals, arms smuggling networks fuel DR Congo conflict - UN report (December 7, 2009)

Live TV Congo Radio en ligne Radio
Available on App Store
Get it on Google Play

Contact Us | About Us | Édition en Français | French Edition

© All rights reserved.