Delegates from the Congolese government are to meet with rebels loyal to leader Laurent NKunda in Nairobi in Kenya on Monday.But NKunda threatened to quit if the talks were to involve other armed groups of the region.
AFP - Laurent Nkunda's CNDP rebels in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo threatened Sunday to walk away from upcoming talks in Kenya if other groups were included.
The pro-government Mai-Mai militia meanwhile threatened to withdraw from the peace process altogether if Nkunda's rebels were granted separate talks with the government.
CNDP spokesman Bertrand Bisimwa said earlier: "We are going to Nairobi to discuss only with the government outside of the Amani programme," referring to the larger UN-sponsored peace process involving all armed groups in the region.
"If (the Congolese) government insists on staying in Amani, we'll pack our bags," Bisimwa added by telephone from Nairobi.
Bisimwa was speaking from Nairobi where he arrived for the talks with a delegation from Nkunda's National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP).
Nkunda, a cashiered general, has made it clear he is only interested in direct talks with the DR Congo government, and not as part of the wider Amani programme.
His representatives travelled to Nairobi on the understanding that Monday's meeting would involve them and the Kinshasa government representatives only.
But leaders of the Mai-Mai militia warned Sunday that any talks between the CNDP and the government should be under the auspices of the Amani programme.
"To proceed in this way is to incite us to quit the Amani programme, the government should not forget this," leaders said in a statement given to AFP. "We are not a negligible group, we have arms," it added.
"We want the CNDP to rejoin Amani. It seems that by quitting Amani, they have become more important than the other groups.
"We don't understand the decision by the government to go and negotiate with the CNDP... We are disappointed, it's a flagrant violation of Amani's terms," added a spokesman.
Kinshasa, which has insisted that it will stick to the Amani framework during the talks in Kenya, dismissed the CNDP statement Sunday.
If the rebels opt to leave, "that's their problem not ours," Communication Minister Lambert Mende said of Nkunda's delegation.
"It's their problem if they don't want peace. They'll be held accountable for their acts," he added.
The Amani programme, launched in January to try to achieve a ceasefire in the volatile east of DR Congo, was intended to gather all the armed groups in the area's Nord- and Sud-Kivu provinces around the table.
On Friday, the government said it intended to meet all armed groups active in the country's east, starting with the CNDP, in an effort to end fighting that has displaced hundreds of thousands of people.
Nkunda, whose fighters have made major advances against government troops in recent weeks and clashed several times with the Mai-Mai militias, has dismissed the Amani process.
Kinshasa wants the Nairobi talks to formalise a unilateral ceasefire the rebels declared with government troops in October.
But the CNDP delegation sees Monday's talks as an opportunity to clear up ambiguities over the status of the talks before any serious dialogue can take place.
The rebel delegation on Monday will be led by the CNDP's Serge Kambasu Ngeve. Kinshasa will sent its Minister for International and Regional Cooperation, Raymond Tshibanda.
Date created : 2008-12-08