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Congo militia group calls cease-fire
Published in Saudi Press Agency on 17 - 01 - 2009

A pro-government militia said Saturday
their forces would cease fighting in eastern Congo, one day
after their rebel rivals declared a cease-fire with
government forces, according to AP.
The political chief of the so-called Pareco militia,
Sendugu Museveni, said that since the rebels want «peace,
it means we have no reason to fight.»
It was not immediately clear, however, whether the truce
would herald an end to violence in eastern Congo. Pareco is
just one of dozens of armed groups from Rwanda and Congo
who have battled one another and the army in the region for
more than a decade.
The leader of the main Congo rebel faction, Laurent
Nkunda, is not involved in the truce, but it is unclear how
much power he still has. His former chief of staff, Bosco
Ntaganda, announced a cease-fire with the government on
Friday that was applauded by authorities.
Ntaganda broke away from Nkunda earlier this month and
said the rebel chief was no longer the group's leader.
Nkunda denies the claim, and has yet to comment publicly on
the latest peace moves.
Neighboring Rwanda's powerful army chief of staff, James
Kabarebe, attended the Goma meeting Friday and his presence
may indicate Rwanda backs Ntaganda _ which, if true, would
be a devastating blow for Nkunda.
Ntaganda is wanted by the International Criminal Court in
The Hague, Netherlands, for the alleged forced conscription
of child soldiers in the Ituri region of eastern Congo five
years ago. Some analysts speculate Ntaganda may be trying
to broker a deal to avoid being extradited for trial.
Museveni said he hoped Ntaganda's call for a truce was
sincere, but conceded «we are not sure.»
Pareco commander Col. Mugabo Baguma said the militia would
back any operations against Congo-based Rwandan Hutu
militias, whose leaders helped orchestrate Rwanda's 1994
genocide. Pareco has traditionally been loosely allied with
the Rwandan militias.
The presence of the Rwandan militias in Congo has given
the mostly Tutsi rebels of Nkunda and Ntaganda reason to
fight for years, and Baguma said if the militias were «not
around, the resolve to end the war will be there.»
Years of sporadic violence intensified in east Congo late
last year, when Nkunda's rebels forced the army into a
humiliating retreat, advancing toward the outskirts of the
regional capital, Goma. The fighting displaced more than
250,000 people.
Nkunda, an ethnic Tutsi, says his rebels are fighting to
protect Congo's minority Tutsis from the Hutu militia that
fled to the country after helping perpetrate the 1994
genocide that killed more than half a million Tutsis and
moderate Hutus in Rwanda. But his critics contend he is
more interested in power and Congo's mineral wealth

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