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29 Apr 2009 12:33
The United Nations peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Monuc) on Wednesday dismissed media reports it was working with a former rebel leader facing war crimes charges.
The BBC said its correspondent in the DRC had seen documents proving General Bosco Ntaganda was taking part in the chain of command in a mission involving Monuc.
“In the official documents ... we have seen and signed, there is no mention of Ntaganda,” Lieutenant Colonel Jean-Paul Dietrich, Monuc’s military spokesperson, told the German Press Agency, dpa.
“In our experience of working [with government forces] he has not appeared.”
The UN peacekeeping force is helping government soldiers tackle Hutu rebels based in the east of the sprawling country.
The BBC says Ntaganda, who was a top leader in a rival Tutsi rebel group until he integrated with the army earlier this year, is an advisor to the operation commander.
Monuc has said it will not work with Ntaganda at any level.
The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant against Ntaganda for the forced recruitment of child soldiers in 2002 and 2003, when he was a high-ranking member of the rebel Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of the Congo.
Ntaganda later joined up with Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda, whose National Congress for the Defence of the People last year launched a major offensive that forced hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee.
Nkunda was arrested by his former sponsor, Rwanda, prior to a joint Rwandan-Congolese drive to eliminate the Hutu rebels.—Sapa-dpa
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