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Congo President Pardons Rebels for Waging War

Congo’s President Joseph Kabila has pardoned rebels who started a war in the vast central African country more than four years ago and must now share power under a peace deal. But Information Minister Kikaya Bin Karubi told Reuters that the amnesty, announced late on Tuesday, did not cover war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide. “Taking up arms, allying with a foreign army to invade your own country and trying to topple the recognised government are crimes, but they have been pardoned,” Bin Karubi said. “But as a rebel, you don’t need to bury women alive, and you don’t need to eat pygmies. Those are war crimes and those crimes have not been pardoned,” he said. All the warring sides are accused of committing atrocities during the conflict, which started in August 1998 when rebels backed by neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda began their struggle to overthrow the Kinshasa government. Cannibalism, rape, torture and summary executions have all been reported by human rights groups. United Nations peacekeepers are currently probing reports of three separate massacres by government forces, rebels and an ethnic militia. At its peak the conflict dragged in the armies of half a dozen African countries. An estimated three million people died, mostly from hunger and disease. Full Story

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