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|November 11, 2008|
Congo slipping toward war. All prevention measures must be taken by the international community without delayNAIROBI (Reuters) - Rebel leader Laurent Nkunda said Monday he was ready to fight regional peacekeepers if they entered eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and supported the Congolese army and its allies. Fighting in eastern Congo has uprooted hundreds of thousands of people, caused international alarm and prompted a warning from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that it could engulf other countries in central Africa.
Southern African countries said Sunday they were willing to send peacekeepers to try to help stabilise eastern Congo, where Nkunda's Tutsi rebels are fighting Congolese government soldiers (FARDC) and Hutu rebels (FDLR).
"If they are coming in to support peace, there is no problem. If they are supporting operations against the FDLR (Hutu's) , there is no problem," Nkunda told Reuters by telephone from eastern Congo.
"If they come in and fight alongside the FARDC (government) and the FDLR(Hutu's) , they will be weakened, they will share the same shame as the DRC government. If South African Development Community(SADC engages like this, they will have made a mistake," he said. "I am ready to fight them."
Tomaz Salamao, executive secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) said Sunday a team of military experts should be deployed immediately to assess the situation and provide assistance to Congo's army.