DR Congo rebels in new stand-off

Other News Materials 15 October 2007 02:30 (UTC +04:00)

(BBC) - A tense stand-off has developed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo between government troops and rebels loyal to Gen Laurent Nkunda .

Government forces are advancing towards the rebel stronghold of Mushaki , a BBC reporter at the scene says.

Gen Nkunda says he will ignore a Monday deadline to start disbanding his army, and called for talks.

But President Joseph Kabila , who flew to the region, was not interested in negotiations, a spokesman said.

The president "is not going along with this negotiations story any more" and would stamp out rebel violence in the east, spokesman Kudura Kasongo told Reuters news agency.

"The head of state, with his government, has decided to end this situation of insecurity," he added.

But in an interview with the BBC's Arnaud Zajtman , Gen Nkunda said that if the government were to attack Mushaki , "we will defend ourselves".

He said he was not ready to integrate his men into the government army and vowed to defend his position.

He said eastern Congo was occupied by "negative forces" - a reference to Hutu rebel groups.

"This is not normal and the government must accept to discuss this issue," he said.

Gen Nkunda said he wanted discussions on the return of Congolese Tutsi refugees from neighbouring countries such as Rwanda and Burundi.

"Other refugees are coming back, but the Tutsi are not coming back," he said.

"We ask the government to protect the Tutsi."