Ex-rebel leader Ntaganda 'not involved' in Congo unrest: AFP
5/1/2012 7:00:00 PM -
GOMA, DR Congo (AFP) - A former rebel leader wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court on Tuesday denied any involvement in the deadly fighting which has plagued the eastern DR Congo in recent days.
"I am not involved in the clashes pitting the FARDC (regular army) against the soldiers who defected," Jean-Bosco Ntaganda told AFP, in reference to army deserters who previously fought in his rebel group.
Ntaganda previously headed the CNDP rebel militia, which was incorporated into the army in 2009 following a peace deal with Kinshasa.
But a group of several hundred CNDP loyalists, including roughly a dozen senior officers, defected earlier this month, citing unpaid salaries and inhumane living conditions among other complaints.
Some of those defectors attacked the FARDC on Sunday at Mwesa in the volatile Kivu Nord province, which borders Rwanda.
"I learned that the mutineers had demands that pushed them to desert the ranks of the FARDC," Ntaganda said.
"I am at my farm near Mushaki," also in Kivu Nord. "My superiors in the army know I'm here and have authorised me to stay. Even the head of state (President Joseph Kabila) knows that."
Ntaganda was indicted on war crimes charges in 2006 by the International Criminal Court for using child soldiers.