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DR Congo: MLC dissident splits with Bemba

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KINSHASA, 23 January (IRIN) - A dissident "officer" within the Mouvement de liberation du Congo (MLC) armed opposition, "Major" Patrick Kibonge, has split and formed a rival body that he said reflected the real aspirations of the movement.
In a statement broadcast on Wednesday by the Voice of America, Kibonge said from Paris that he had formed his breakaway movement, MLC-Reforme, with "Captain" Gisolo, "Colonel" Karawa, Prof Yewawa and Jean Miru Mamba. Beyond that he did not indicate the strength of his following among rank-and-file fighters.

He said he had broken with MLC leader Jean-Pierre Bemba because of the latter's decision to send fighters to the Central African Republic (CAR) capital, Bangui, to help President Ange-Felix Patasse put down a rebellion by former army troops. "Bemba sent our soldiers to Bangui with the result that 450 of them were killed. We've decided that is enough," Kibonge said. "If tomorrow Jean-Pierre Bemba is judged for his actions, we who created the movement with him, we should not be seen as accomplices," he added.

MLC troops have been accused of pillage and raping residents in the northern suburbs of Bangui. Moreover, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the movement was one of three accused of involvement in cannibalism and other human rights violations.

In response to the charge, Bemba arrested nine MLC fighters, and said human rights violations were not sanctioned by his movement. The MLC has said it supports the government's request to the UN Security Council for the establishment of an international tribunal to try suspected human rights violators.

[ENDS]

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