The Democratic Republic of Congo's information minister says “foreign interests” are playing a role in fighting in his country.
Lambert Mende told VOA those elements have an interest in destabilizing the country, but that there is no reason to think the DRC's neighbors are involved.
He said the country's defense minister is visiting Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi on a fact-finding mission.
Fighting between the military and rebels led by ex-soldier Bosco Ntaganda erupted in late April. Pro-Ntaganda soldiers began deserting the army last month, complaining of low pay and difficult conditions.
The military instituted a five-day cease-fire, which ended last week, in hopes of getting some of the mutineers to re-join the army.
Mende told VOA the rebel claims of poor pay and conditions are “totally rubbish”
“They are refusing to be deployed to other provinces than where they have been born. We don't know any army on this planet Earth who can accept that soldiers can decide themselves where they are to be deployed.”
The United Nations says thousands of people have fled the DRC's North Kivu province to escape the violence. The army desertions have left much of both North and South Kivu without regular military protection.
Mende said his government his concerned about refugees who have fled into neighboring countries.
“We have something like 7,500 in Rwanda where our governor for North Kivu was sent by the president to see what is happening with them. And, we have 3,000 who escaped to Uganda, and our government will send, I think tomorrow or the day to follow, to see what is happening and to prepare their way back at home.”
Ntaganda, who is in hiding, leads the rebel National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP). He is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes.