Congo rejects rebel demand for talks: spokesman

Mon Nov 19, 2012 7:44am EST
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DAKAR (Reuters) - The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday rejected a 24-hour ultimatum from rebels in the east of the country to open talks or face an onslaught, accusing neighboring Rwanda of being behind the rebellion.

"M23 is defined by the government as a fiction created by Rwanda to hide their criminal activities against the DRC," Congo's government spokesman Lambert Mende told Reuters by telephone from Kinshasa.

"We do not want to deal with them or answer their ultimatums or proposals. It is an ultimatum from a fictitious group that has no real value to us," Mende said.

The M23 rebels on Monday gave the government 24 hours to open peace talks and pull back its forces or risk an escalation of fighting in the east after advancing to within 5 km (2 miles)of Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu province.

(Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Recruits of the newly formed Congolese Revolutionary Army march during military training in Rumangabo military camp, Democratic Republic of Congo, October 23, 2012. REUTERS/James Akena