The Democratic Republic of Congo will ask France to extradite Congolese opposition figure Roger Lumbala, who it suspects of backing the rebellion in the country's east, a government spokesman said Sunday.
The DR Congo suspects Lumbala, 54, of ties to the M23 rebels whose clashes with the army have renewed unrest in the volatile eastern provinces, forcing some 220,000 people from their homes since May. Human Rights Watch has claimed the rebels are guilty of widespread war crimes.
"This rebellion is costing our country thousands of lives and we want to fight against impunity. So being in France does not place Lumbala outside" the bounds of extradition proceedings, government spokesman Lambert Mende said.
Lumbala was detained and questioned earlier this month in Burundi, after arriving from Rwanda, which the United Nations has accused of backing the M23 rebels. He then took refuge in South Africa's embassy.
On Saturday, he took off for France, where he was expected to arrive Sunday, a French diplomat told AFP.
Lumbala has since 2000 led a rebel movement that became the political party Rally of Congolese Democrats and Nationalists in 2003. He ran for office in 2006.
He has since been part of several opposition coalitions and was re-elected to parliament last year.© ANP/AFP