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|November 2, 2008|
Tall, urbane and charming, he is rarely seen out of his sharply-dressed green fatigues and mirror-shine black 18-eyelet boots, unless he is posing in a cowboy hat and dark sunglasses. His softly-spoken English occasionally hardens as he lists the litany of violence he says has been meted out against his Tutsi people, by Hutu hardliners who fled over the border after carrying out the genocide in neighboring Rwanda.
Mr. Nkunda claims the militia known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), is bent on carrying out a fresh genocide against Congo's Tutsis, (who make up three per cent of the population of the country's east-- Hutus are roughly 40%.) Stamping out the FDLR is his stated mission. In reality, his agenda is less clear. He is close to Rwanda, which denies officially supporting his offensive. Also at stake is the control of Eastern Congo's vast mineral wealth, which includes gold and tin and almost all of the world's coltan, a metal crucial to the manufacture of every mobile phone in the world. Perhaps, this accomplished strategist is simply a typical African warlord thirsting for land and power. This he denies, repeating his mantra of saving Congo's people from tyranny.
But it is tyranny that he's unleashed. Thousands have fled from his troops. His soldiers are accused of murder and rape.
Now, he says he is ready to talk peace.