DRC rebel leader faces fresh call to step down

A rebel faction on Thursday issued a fresh challenge to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) rebel leader Laurent Nkunda, reiterating a demand he step down immediately.

“We invite Laurent Nkunda to accept his ouster and cooperate with the new leadership of the CNPD [National Congress for the Defence of the People], a spokesperson for Nkunda’s rebel rival, Bosco Ntaganda, said.

Nkunda, who formed the CNDP in 2006, headed a rebel offensive in the east of the country that resumed in August last year, displacing a quarter of a million people.

Talks to negotiate a truce between Kinshasa and the rebels that started up again in Nairobi this week are being complicated by the split within rebel ranks.

The split surfaced on Monday when rebel chief of staff Ntaganda signed a statement that Nkunda had been dismissed as CNDP chief for “poor leadership” and “bad governance”.

The CNDP later denied any changes within the movement and sent a team to Nairobi to take part in the talks with the Congolese government.

But Ntaganda’s spokesperson, Desire Kamanzi, reached by telephone from Kinshasa, said that the rebel delegates in Nairobi no longer represented the movement.

“We do not recognise this delegation that went to Nairobi,” he said. “They do not represent us and were named by Nkunda after his ouster.”—AFP

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