Laurent Nkunda says his forces are prepared to rejoin the army but not disarm.
“You have simply created good reason for him to challenge you to stand up,” he said referring the armed uprising by forces loyal to rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda.
Nkunda who is in charge of an estimated 8,000 men, has been fighting government troops for the last few weeks in the North Kivu province of the DRC near the Rwandan border.
The violence has resulted in the displacement of more than 150,000 people in three weeks, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Nkunda says the government is failing to protect the Tutsi minority in the region from genocide at the hands of Hutu Interhamwe fighters who were responsible for the genocide that took place in Rwanda in 1994 and subsequently fled to the DRC.
Delphin Kahimbi, the man in charge of the DRC government’s military operations in North Kivu, blames Rwanda for the current crisis.
“There are positions controlled by Nkunda that are at the border and there, we think that ammunition and arms are coming from Rwanda,” he said.
The DRC is dealing with the ongoing conflict in North Kivu, with the help of 4,300 UN peacekeeping troops.
On Wednesday, Michel Bonnardeaux, a spokesman for the organisation’s mission in the country, said Nkunda was violating international law by continuing to forcibly recruit child soldiers.
The UN “has confirmed that children are being recruited by different armed groups, especially by the rebel forces of warlord Laurent Nkunda,” Bonnardeaux said.
The number of children that have been forcibly recruited is not yet known, he said.
Nephtali Nkizinkiko, a MP in the Congolese national assembly, said that since last week Nkunda’s men “have raided 10 secondary schools and four primary schools where they took the children by force in order to make them join their ranks.”
Bonnardeaux said that while boys are used as fighters, girls are taken as sex slaves.
Those that try to escape are often recruited by rival armed groups, he said.