GOMA, DRCongo (AFP) – Rebel troops loyal to a renegade Tutsi general vowed Sunday to fight the Congolese government and armed Hutu Rwandan rebels "with neither remorse nor regret," representative Kambasu Ngeze said.
Cashiered general Laurent Nkunda's National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) are the key armed group based in the strife-wracked Nord-Kivu region, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Nkunda claims to be protecting Congolese ethnic Tutsis.
Ngeze was speaking as Nkunda's delegation chief at an often chaotic peace conference — which only has the power to make recommendations and which has seen repeated walkouts staged by the CNDP and ethnic Pygmies.
The Congolese army has deployed some 25,000 soldiers since August 2007 to the territory, bordering Rwanda, to combat 4,000 insurgents under Nkunda's command.
Ngeze issued a demand for President Joseph Kabila's government to drive out Rwandan Hutu forces, grouped under the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and estimated by the UN to number some 6,000.
He said Kabila must rid the country of what he termed the "forces of genocide." The militia is seen as the main obstacle to the return of some 40,000 Tusti Congolese who have taken refuge in Rwanda.
Ngeze said the CNDP was an umbrella for "almost all of the (region's) tribes," but warned that the government had to "acknowledge the threat … to the people of Nord- and Sud-Kivu."
He said the CNDP was responding to a "cry of distress" in opposition to a "politics of discrimination, of exclusion and of marginalisation" by Kabila's government.
He strongly objects to the presence of Rwandan Hutus, some of whom are blamed for that country's genocide mainly of Tutsis in 1994, and who are grouped under the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
The FDLR set up in DRC after a Tutsi government took power in Rwanda following the genocide which saw some 800,000 deaths, according to the UN.
The local Mai Mai militia echoed the demand for FDLR repatriation — while also calling for CNDP disarmament, with spokesman Michel Musunga denouncing "crimes" committed by Nkunda soldiers while still in mixed regiments prior to his sacking.
At least 750,000 civilians have been displaced by the internecine fighting between Nkunda's forces, the local Mai Mai militias, the FARDC and Rwanda Hutu rebels, according to the UN.