U.S. rejects statements from Congo's Nkunda

WASHINGTON, Oct 6 (Reuters) - The United States on Monday strongly condemned reported comments by Congolese Tutsi rebel chief Laurent Nkunda that he intended to overthrow the elected government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In comments to the BBC and Radio France International on Thursday, Nkunda said a peace process signed in January with Democratic Republic of Congo's government was over and he urged Congolese to "stand up for their liberty."

"We are going to liberate the people of Congo," the BBC quoted Nkunda as saying. His spokesman later said Nkunda had no plans to wage war outside of his eastern stronghold.

"The United States condemns and rejects the statements made by General Nkunda," State Department spokesman Robert Wood said in a statement. "The U.S. opposes all those who seek to foment instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo."

The United Nations, which has its biggest international peacekeeping force, around 17,000 strong, in Congo, said last week it was studying Nkunda's comments, which seemed to threaten an escalation of the conflict in North Kivu.

Nkunda has led a rebellion in North Kivu province in eastern Congo since 2004 in defense of Congo's minority ethnic Tutsi community. He says Tutsis are threatened by Rwandan Hutu rebels he says are backed by President Joseph Kabila's government army.

Wood said all sides in the conflict must abide by previous agreements and cease-fire deals and move quickly to disengage their forces in accordance with U.N. guidelines.

"The signatories should respect their commitments and implement them swiftly," Wood said. (Reporting by Sue Pleming; editing by Mohammad Zargham)