Disarmament in full swing in DR Congo, UN mission reports

3 May 2007 – Progress is being made in disarmament efforts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as the notorious leader of one of the Central African country’s largest militias announced that 500 more of his fighters will surrender their weapons this week, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country said today.

These fighters loyal to Peter Karim, who is the commander of the Front des Nationalistes and Intégrationnistes (FNI), will also reintegrate into civilian life, UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters in New York.

In February, Mr. Karim ordered the surrender and disarmament of 170 of his troops, including many children, while demanding amnesty.

“I want peace, as does the DRC Government,” he told the mission, known as MONUC, in a rare interview in February.

However, he stated that neither he nor his senior deputies would surrender without a definite official pardon. “If an amnesty was guaranteed for us, I would be willing to surrender tomorrow.”

MONUC also stated that a joint UN-Congolese Army unit has verified that 320 people have been disarmed at a naval base in Mbandaka, the capital of Equateur province in the west of the country.

Also in the province, an additional 50 soldiers and 130 former presidential security officers have been registered for integration, the mission said.

In another development, MONUC is assisting those who have been displaced by clashes between the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in North and South Kivu. Among other efforts, MONUC is ensuring that humanitarian workers have safe access to provide relief to those in need.

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