6 Jan 2009

Congo rebels reportedly oust leader

5:26 pm on 6 January 2009

Senior commanders in the main rebel movement in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo say they have ousted their leader, General Laurent Nkunda.

The BBC reports there has been no comment yet from General Nkunda and no independent confirmation.

The rebels launched a big offensive in August, raising fears of a wider regional war.

General Nkunda and his group says they are fighting to protect the Tutsi community from attack by Rwandan Hutu rebels based in the Congo, some of whom are accused of taking part in genocide in 1994.

Human rights group have accused rebel forces, along with those of the government, of numerous killings, rapes and torture.

Talks in Kenya aimed at ending the conflict became deadlocked last month.

The decision to remove General Nkunda as leader of the National Congress for the Defence of the People reportedly came after a meeting of the rebel group's military high command on Sunday.