Al Jazeera’s correspondent Yvonne Ndege, also speaking from North Kivu, said Nkunda was absolutely convinced that there as an ideological war being waged against the Tutsi people living in the eastern part of the DRC.
He has accused a group associated with the genocide in Rwanda of killing, maiming and looting DRC’s ethnic Tutsis, and claimed that government troops were also involved in similar acts, Ndege said.
Nkunda is reportedly close to military officials in Rwanda.
Joseph Kabila, the DRC president, has said that the renegade troops led by Nkunda must return to the army or face disarmament by force.
“We must establish the authority of the state in the east using all possible means,” he said in Kinshasa, the DRC capital, on Friday.
|“I will not allow anybody, any individual or community, to form a militia. This is impossible, unacceptable”
DR Congo president
“I will not allow anybody, any individual or community, to form a militia. This is impossible, unacceptable.”
Nkunda has said he is ready to talk to the government and rejoin the military, but his fighters will not lay down their weapons.
Speaking to Al Jazeera on Friday, Nkunda said security is the only stumbling block to a settlement and referred to Kabila’s recent mention of “the problem of negative forces operating in eastern Congo”.
He said: “I heard of [Kabila’s] declaration. For us it is not a threat because he talks about political issues. If the process fails, he says that he going to take up military means.
“We are asking for [attention to the] political issues and we are ready to talk with our government. We are demanding negotiations and we think that we are going to have a solution through negotiations. And we are ready to join the national army.”
UN peacekeepers have urged Nkunda’s fighters to merge with the DRC army, and welcomed “the observance of the ceasefire” it imposed after Nkunda’s troops tried to take the town of Sake.
The truce came after nearly two weeks of fighting.
|Nkunda claims DR Congo’s transition to
democracy exluded ethnic Tutsis [EPA]
Speaking on the topic, Nkunda said: “We have got a ceasefire from the UN, we are observing the ceasefire.
“We cannot lay down arms, we cannot surrender. We are soldiers. We want to serve in the government army.
“If someone wants to serve as soldiers, you cannot disarm him. We are going to joint the government with our arms.
“The next step is, we are going to have negotiations between us and the government. We maintain that the best political way to resolve a conflict is negotiations.”
Al Jazeera’s Ndege said Nkunda is unhappy about the issue of reintegration of certain brigades from his force into the DRC army.
“There was a reintegration deal which collapsed, and he is unhappy about the outcome,” she said.
Nkunda’s fighters were integrated into mixed national army brigades as part of a peace accord reached in January but the deal collapsed last month and his men deserted.
Meanwhile, UN peacekeepers in the area said they had discovered three graves, each containing several bodies, at a military base abandoned by force loyal to Nkunda.
UN investigators were examining the graves in Rubare, about 60km north of the provincial capital Goma as it was not immediately clear who the dead were, how they died or how many are buried there.
“We do not know the exact number of victims but there are several in each of the graves,” Sylvie van den Wildenberg, a spokeswoman for Congo’s UN peacekeeping mission (Monuc), said.
Major Gabriel De Brosse, military spokesman for Monuc, told Reuters news agency: “We have seen the graves … This is an area previously under the control of Nkunda’s elements.”
Monuc and human-rights campaigners have accused Nkunda loyalists in certain mixed brigades of the army of killing and terrorising civilians they suspect of collaborating with Rwandan Hutu rebels who also operate in North Kivu.