Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Rebel chief accuses DRC army of breaking ceasefire

Renegade Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) General Laurent Nkunda said on Friday the Congolese army had attacked his position, breaking a fragile ceasefire negotiated by United Nations mediators in eastern DRC.

”I have told Monuc [the United Nations mission in DRC] that we were attacked this morning [Friday] in Rutshuru. They say they are in contact with the Congolese army to ask them to stop,” Nkunda told Reuters by telephone.

UN mediators announced the ceasefire on Thursday after nearly two weeks of fighting in volatile North Kivu province in which rebels loyal to Nkunda have battled UN-backed government troops, forcing thousands of refugees to flee.

Nkunda said he believed the army attack could be stopped and added he was still ready to respect the ceasefire. ”We want to negotiate, but it seems for them [the army] it is a strategy to buy time to reinforce,” he said.

Asked about the reported fighting, the Congolese army’s commander of operations in North Kivu, Colonel Delphin Kahimbi, said: ”We’ve just heard about it, we’re checking it”.

The latest clash in the Rutshuru district took place in the Virunga National Park, a sanctuary for rare mountain gorillas, which has suffered repeated attacks by eastern Congolese rebels and militias.

Robert Muir of the Frankfurt Zoological Society, which helps protect the gorillas, said Virunga park rangers had reported hearing a bombardment from heavy weapons between Bukima and Bikenge. ”It’s very intense,” he said.

Thursday’s ceasefire deal was announced as thousands of Tutsi fighters loyal to Nkunda appeared to have turned the tide on government forces, and were pressing ahead towards the provincial capital, Goma.

The worsening fighting in eastern DRC has been a setback to efforts by President Joseph Kabila, who won landmark elections late last year, to achieve lasting peace across the former Belgian colony, scarred by a 1998 to 2003 war.

Nkunda, who first led a revolt in 2004 but signed a short-lived peace deal in January, says he is fighting to protect his Tutsi people in eastern DRC against attacks by Rwandan Hutu rebels he says are backed by Kabila’s government.

The renegade general said he had no direct contact with the government but would accept an outside mediator to negotiate.

”If the international community gets involved I think we can find a lasting peace,” he said. — Reuters

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

DA’s egregious sexual harassment case finally begins

The party is accused of protecting a councillor, who’s also implicated in R1.2m graft

The ANC, DA and EFF ‘oblivious’ to climate crisis —...

The Climate Justice Charter Movement has critiqued the manifestos of the main parties contesting the local government elections and found them ‘shallow’

More top stories

Countries bear cross-border responsibility for harmful effects of climate change,...

The UN committee has been accused of ‘turning its back’ on the children who filed a groundbreaking legal complaint with it against five countries

Magashule files notice to have corruption charges dropped

Counsel for the suspended ANC secretary general tells court the former Free State premier falls outside category of who can be charged for corrupt activities

R1.5-billion in funding approved for riot-hit businesses

Agencies emphasise that speed is crucial to rescuing firms affected by July’s unrest

DA’s egregious sexual harassment case finally begins

The party is accused of protecting a councillor, who’s also implicated in R1.2m graft

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…