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Thousands disarm and join reintegration process in Ituri


Photo: Richard Pituwa/IRIN
Former militias in Ituri
KINSHASA, 21 August 2007 (IRIN) - Some 3,500 more militia members from the troubled eastern Democratic of Congo province Ituri handed in their weapons during the first two weeks of August, a government official said.

Nutmba Luaba, the new commissioner of the national disarmament and reintegration programme, had issued a deadline of 17 August for rebels to join the process.

"I think we are now done with armed groups in Ituri," he said on 20 August.

The former fighters, he said, came from the last three militia groups negotiating with the government - the Front des nationalistes integrationnistes, the Front des resistants patriotes de l'Ituri and the Mouvement pour la renaissance du Congo.

Their leaders became members of the regular army (Fardc) at the beginning of the year and were awarded the rank of colonel.

"We have now started a new phase - the process of peace consolidation," Luaba said. "We will not accept any other armed groups in Ituri. It is over, we will not tolerate violence in Ituri as the time for peace and reconstruction has now arrived."

A third of the 3,500 former militia members would join Fardc, while the others would be reintegrated into the civilian community and given apprenticeships for jobs such as carpentry or farming, he said.

The demobilised would receive an allocation of US$100 and be involved in helping the community. "It is a way to enable former fighters to contribute to the reconstruction of what they have destroyed during the conflict," said Luaba.

UN Mission in DRC (MONUC) spokesman Kemal Saiki said: "I can't tell you whether these days, after this appeal, militias still exist in Ituri."

During a recent visit to Ituri, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative in the DRC, William Swing said: "There are issues relating to registered troops who present themselves for DDR [Demobilisation, Disarmament and Reintergration] but do not have weapons, and others who come with a weapon but are not registered for the programme."

Ituri has been devastated by ethnic violence since 1999. More than six armed groups have fought intermittently, leaving an estimated 50,000 people dead and another 400,000 displaced.

The transitional government has helped disarm more than 17,000 militia members since 2006.

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