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Tutsi leader threatens to fight foreign troops

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2008-10-30

In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24, Congolese rebel leader Laurent Nkunda threatened to fight foreign troops if they sided with Hutu militias.

Watch our two-part Debate: 'Going to war in the Democratic Republic of Congo?'


In an exclusive interview with France 24, Laurent Nkunda, rebel Tutsi leader in Democratic Republic of Congo, gave an ultimatum to the government, which he accused of aligning itself with Hutus.

“We give him [the government] the opportunity to negotiate and to remain in power,” Nkunda said, adding that “they only need to isolate themselves from the negative forces [the Hutus].”


In a prelude to his ultimatum, he said: “Government forces are allied to those Hutu rebels who came from Rwanda.  They are using them, they are working with them, and for us it’s a national threat. We are asking the government to let these [Hutus] back to their country so that we can get peace.”

Nkunda also accused Congolese government forces of not respecting the unilateral ceasefire decreed by his forces on Wednesday.
“We pushed back from Goma about 12 kilometres so that MONUC (the United Nations force in the Congo) can do its best to ensure the security of the town.  We did it because the town was destabilized in the evening by FRDC government forces, looting, raping and robbing people in Goma.”
It was difficult to investigate the damage and casualties caused during Wednesday’s clashes in the regional capital.

The UN Security Council had condemned the rebel offensive towards Goma.  Just after the ceasefire announcement, heavy gunfire was heard coming from the city, as well as artillery fire a few kilometers off, in the direction of the Rwandan border.  Many of Goma’s residents took flight.


“If they come only to help Hutus, we are going to fight”


Despite the ceasefire , Nkunda admitted he was not in direct negotiations with the government. Rather, he shared occasional communications through MONUC. MONUC is one of the world’s biggest peacekeeping missions, with about 17,000 soldiers, most of them based in the eastern region of RDC.

Nkunda said he would welcome more peacekeepers, but not if they sided with the Hutus. “If they [international peacekeeping forces] are not coming to help, but to restore these negative [Hutu] forces, we are going to welcome them… we are going to fight.”


Concerned that MONUC forces were “reaching their limit,” the force's chief, Alan Doss, made an urgent request for more troops on Tuesday. "I obviously hope we can get some additional support as quickly as possible, so that we can move this process back on the right track," he said.


When questioned about his relationship with Rwanda, the rebel leader denied having any support - moral or material - from its government, even lamenting the lack of aid.

Date created : 2008-10-30