Fresh clashes as US envoy meets rebel head in DRC

Rebels clashed on Friday with a pro-government militia in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as a United Nations envoy held talks with embattled guerrilla chief Laurent Nkunda, whose leadership has been challenged by a top aide.

The National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) rebels and Mai-Mai militia traded fire near Mabenga, about 90km north of Goma, the capital of Nord-Kivu province.

A UN official said Mabenga is the site of a centre for the Virunga National Park, which is now being used as a military base for the rebel fighters.

It marks the border between rebel-held territory and a zone designated ”neutral” where several pro-government forces are located.

Rebel spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Seraphin Mirindi said they had fought off a dawn attack by members of the Congolese Resistance Patriots, a component of the pro-government Mai-Mai.

Earlier on Friday, the spokesperson for the UN’s mission in Congo, Lieutenant Colonel Jean-Paul Dietrich, said there had been no sign of fighting between rival factions of the rebel group, which is in the grips of a leadership crisis.

UN mediator and former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo met with Nkunda, the cashiered general who was the undisputed leader of the rebels until being challenged recently by one of his senior officers.

”Obasanjo came to Jomba to meet Nkunda,” CNDP spokesperson Bertrand Bisimwa said, referring to a town about 60km north of Goma.

CNDP chief of staff Bosco Ntaganda announced on Monday that Nkunda had been dismissed as leader, a claim quickly denied by Nkunda’s camp.

The split within their ranks has so far been confined to a war of words, but it has interfered with the talks scheduled between DRC President Joseph Kabila and CNDP rebel representatives.

A spokesperson for Ntaganda on Thursday challenged the legitimacy of the delegation that Nkunda chose to attend the UN-mediated peace talks in Nairobi.

But Ntaganda himself said he would pursue peace negotiations with Kinshasa and appeared to indicate he would back the delegation if it brought peace.

The CNDP force of about 5 000 troops controls large areas of Nord-Kivu following an offensive against the poorly equipped government army.

The offensive displaced more than a quarter of a million people and sparked a humanitarian crisis. — Sapa-AFP

Keep the powerful accountable

Subscribe for R30/mth for the first three months. Cancel anytime.

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

2021: The year of the whistleblower

Their role in our democracy has been invaluable, and they will need our protection and support

Five steps to get your Covid-19 vaccine certificate

People without identity documents will have to wait for the government to put in place a proper vaccination system for them

Babita Deokaran: an obstacle for the corrupt

The family of health department employee Babita Deokaran are devastated at her assassination, but proud of her role as a ‘hero’ in exposing corruption

What’s in store for SA as the ANC implodes?

As the increasingly less relevant ANC vacates the middle ground and the centre-left, a void opens, which will urgently need to be filled

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…