No plan to arrest dissident ex-general, UN official says

The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) does not plan to capture a dissident former general of the Congolese army against whom an international arrest warrant was issued recently, an official told IRIN on Thursday.

"Mr Laurent Nkunda does not present a threat to the local population, thus we cannot justify any action against him," Gen Narena Satiya, the commander of MONUC's Indian brigade based in North Kivu Province, said from the provincial capital, Goma.

UN and local authorities went on Thursday to Nkunda's alleged stronghold in eastern Congo to try to meet him as well as government troops who deserted their posts a few days earlier.

The commander of the Congolese army's 8th military region, based in the province, Gen Gabriël Amisi, told IRIN on Thursday that local government officials, MONUC and government troops travelled to the town of Kitchanga, north of Goma, but failed to meet Nkunda.

"But we did meet with senior army officers who had deserted a few days ago," Amisi said. "The officers explained why they fled. They complained about the process by which they were being integrated into the national army."

The deserters are Tutsis who were in armed groups during the country's conflict, which have largely maintained their rebel command structures.

Nkunda was one of the Congolese Tutsi leaders of a rebellion in May 2004 in South Kivu during which the government temporarily lost control of Bukavu, the provincial capital.

Satiya said on Wednesday that he also did not expect violence from the thousands of Rwandan Hutus rebels based in eastern Congo, who the government have given until 30 September to leave the country.