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Rebel group ready to disarm


NAIROBI, 31 Mar 2005 (IRIN) - Leaders of a Rwandan armed group operating from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) announced on Thursday their intention to end attacks against their homeland, according to the UN Mission in the DRC, known as MONUC.

Moreover, the leaders of the Forces démocratique de libération de Rwanda (FDLR) indicated a willingness to enter a UN programme of disarmament, demobilisation, repatriation, reinstallation and rehabilitation (DDRRR).

"In the light of this declaration by the FDLR, MONUC is ready to work out a timetable and details for undertaking the repatriation," MONUC said in a statement.

In response to the FDLR's announcement, William Swing, the head of MONUC, said in the statement that the decision created new prospects for a rapid and final resolution to the presence of armed Rwandans in the DRC.

Swing, who is also the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in the DRC, was quoted as saying the move by the FDLR might clear the way for the rapid reestablishment of normal diplomatic ties between Rwanda and the DRC.

FDLR fighters could assemble temporarily in the east of the country - at Hombo, Sake, Lubero, Walungu, Sange and Kanyabayonga - prior to their repatriation, according to MONUC.

On arrival at these sites, MONUC would register the combatants and their close relatives before transporting them under UN escort to the border with Rwanda. There, the Rwandan authorities would assume responsibility for the returnees under their own national programme of demobilisation and reintegration, MONUC said.

MONUC has promised to record and destroy all weapons handed in by the Rwandan fighters. Previously, FDLR leaders have been accused of blocking attempts by some ex-fighters to enter the DDRRR process and return home.

Improved relations between Rwanda and the DRC would offer the possibility of a "significant opening of humanitarian access" in the zones in which the Rwandan ex-combatants are located, MONUC said.

Moreover, it said, their repatriation would improve the climate for general elections due in the DRC later this year.

@Congoplanet |

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