DRC rebels reject UN help

RUTSHURU - The crowd had been sweltering for three hours in an overgrown stadium on Saturday before Laurent Nkunda arrived and launched a harangue against the government and the UN.

RUTSHURU - The crowd had been sweltering for three hours in an overgrown stadium on Saturday before Laurent Nkunda arrived and launched a harangue against the government and the UN.

"They are sending in another 3000 peacekeepers and you are applauding. You are mistaken!," the rebel leader thundered to a mostly male audience of about 1500 people, in his first address in the eastern DRC town since capturing it last month.

"We cannot accept outsiders to provide our security," he said during a rowdy "popular meeting" in Rutshuru, located about 80 kilometres north of Goma, the main city in war-torn Nord-Kivu province.

The ex-general denounced those "aimed to fight Nkunda" and called for coexistence in a region torn by ethnic differences.

"There is only one solution, we must live together. There is enough space for foreigners," said Nkunda, who claims he is defending the region's Tutsi minority.

Nkunda's arrival came just two days after the United Nations Security Council approved sending 3000 additional peacekeepers to this troubled central African country, bringing the UN operation to 20000.

Many Rutshuru citizens were afraid to attend the event, blaming the rebels for pillaging and rape. - Sapa-AFP

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