A statement said the fighters had formed an armed group called M23 to be headed by Col Sultani Makenga, who also recently defected from the army. Analysts say the move could be a way of protecting Gen Ntaganda, who is wanted by the ICC for alleged war crimes. Gen Ntaganda, who is in hiding, denies masterminding last month’s army mutiny.
Several hundred troops loyal to him went on to seize two towns in Masisi, near the North Kivu capital, Goma. But the army says it has now regained control of the entire eastern area of Masisi and has declared a ceasefire, giving the rebels until Wednesday to surrender. The International Criminal Court accuses Gen Ntaganda of recruiting child soldiers for the same rebel group as Thomas Lubanga, who in March became the first person to be convicted of war crimes at The Hague.
The Congolese authorities say they want to arrest the general, who has fought for various militias over the years, and put him on trial in DR Congo, rather than sending him to the ICC.
‘Mistreated in army’
The statement about the mutineers’ new leader was made by the CNDP, formerly a Tutsi-led militia group which became a political party when its fighters, led by Gen Ntaganda, were integrated into the army in 2009.