DRC Rebel Group Faults Government over Agreement
By Peter Clottey
02 September 2009
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a rebel group is scheduled to hold a news conference Wednesday to demand the full implementation of a recently signed agreement.
The Mai Mai armed group is accusing the government of abdicating its responsibility under the agreement that ended years of clashes in the restive North Kivu province.
But President Joseph Kabila's government says the accusations are without merit. Spokesman Lambert Mende has described the rebel group as bandits who would be decisively dealt with.
Under the Goma agreement, the government was to release all jailed rebels as well as incorporate them into the national army.
Didier Bitaki, a leading member of the rebel Mai Mai group said that his group is disappointed in the government's stance.
"Today Wednesday, we have a press conference to explain to people the peace process that started in Goma in March 23,because already we are anxious… since four months after the peace process was started, there is nothing that has been done (correctly) from what we agreed with the government," Bitaki said.
He said the government has failed to live up to its responsibility under the agreement.
"We have to express our disappointment regarding (the agreement) and that is the reason why we need the press conference to explain and let people know how things are going," he said.
Bitaki accused the government of failing to consult with rebel negotiators.
"If they were preparing something from the former armed groups they could be consulting them… I'm one of the representatives of the armed group in the National Commission of the Fellowship of the Accord, but I don't have any information, Bitaki said.
Kinshasa has, however said the implementation of the Goma agreement is on course.
"I'm sure that this group that is saying so is not a representative of the majority of the Mai Mai. I know that something like 80 percent of the Mai Mai has already joined the re-integration process," said government spokesman Lambert Mende.
He said there are other insurgent groups who have been undermining the agreement.
"I know that a small minority group I think called Pareko and another group Yakutumba out of tens of tens of groups have shown some reluctance to join this disarmament exercise," he said.
Mende said the rebels have failed to abide by the peace agreement.
"They are trying to extend the period where they can continue looting and misbehaving, raping and we totally oppose this way of doing thing," Mende said.
He said the government is determined to end the insurgency.
"We have started to crash them. We cannot be under the pressure of a minority," he said.
Mende denied Kinshasa is not abiding by the stipulations of the agreement.
"It is a lie. There is no other specification in the agreement only that they (rebels) have to join the army. And when you join a governmental army, you just abide by the law by the rules of the army. You can't come with your own rules as if you are building a new army," Mende said.
Earlier this year, the Mai Mai rebel group expressed frustration with the government and threatened to take up arms, a move experts believed would undermine the peace process.
Meanwhile relative peace has reportedly returned to the restive North Kivu province since the signing of the agreement between Kinshasa and armed groups.
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