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DRC Armed Group Demands Information Minister's Resignation

By Peter Clottey
18 September 2009

A Democratic Republic of Congo armed group has issued an ultimatum to President Joseph Kabila demanding the resignation of the Information Minister Lambert Mende.

The Mai Mai threatened to soon take drastic action if President Kabila fails to fire the minister.

The armed group claims Minister Mende insulted them after they accused the government of violating a recently signed agreement, a charge the Kabila administration denies.

The information minister allegedly described members of the armed group as terrorists who killed innocent Congolese and destroyed properties.

Mai Mai spokesman Didier Bitaki said the armed group would no longer tolerate the minister's insults.

"The armed group has made a communiqué in which they were talking about the violation of the Goma Peace Agreement, which was violated by the government. But instead of getting the response from the government the Information and the Media Minister, Mr. Lambert Mende started to insult people while he called the armed group as criminals… terrorists," Bitaki said.

He said the information minister's action undermines the authority of President Kabila.

"Those responsible for signing the document were nominated by an act signed by the president. I think the minster has made a big mistake," he said.

Bitaki said his group is demanding the immediate resignation of the information minister.

"In consequence, the armed group is saying before even talking to the government, the minister has to resign from the government for that to make things start going correct," Bitaki said.

He warned the government of a possible insurgency if the minister is not removed.

"Our combatants are still waiting here so if the minster does not take back his word, we are going to ask the president that we cannot continue to work with people who don't have any respect for us," he said.

But Information Minister Lambert Mende has dismissed the call for his removal as infantile.

"I wish them good luck, but I have no comment to say on such childish statement. First of all, nobody consulted them for me to be appointed as a member of government following my election in my constituency. And nobody will ask them for me to be removed from office," Mende said.

He said the armed group took advantage to attack innocent civilians.

"We know how they went to the bush. They took opportunity from some disturbances that were created by other people. They are not the ones that created the disturbances," he said.

Mende described the armed group as scandalous.

"Nobody will come and give justification to criminals who have themselves to justify before our country. And we are not going to pay people because they have killed Congolese," Mende said.

He said the government will resist all forms of blackmail.

"Nobody will again blackmail the Congo state. Mai Mai or not, nobody will again be allowed to blackmail the state of this country. That is all," he said.

Mende denied that the government agreed to pay all armed groups who killed innocent civilians during the height of rebel insurgency in the restive Kivu provinces.

The Goma Peace Agreement effectively ended years of clashes between government troops and several armed groups in Eastern Congo.

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