Burundi: Ex-combatants protest non-payment of demobilisation fee

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

BUJUMBURA, 17 Jun 2005 (IRIN) - At least 100 former combatants demonstrated on Friday outside the offices of the UN Mission in Burundi, to demand payment of a fee they had been promised upon demobilisation.

"Three months after we were cantoned, we have not been paid the 100,000 francs [US 100] that each one of us was promised," one of the demonstrators, who requested anonymity, said.

The fee is due to each ex-combatant, under the country's disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) programme. Another demonstrator said the pledge to pay them was made in January.

UN security officers dispersed the group after asking them to appoint a small team to present their grievances to the UN mission, known as ONUB.

"If there is no result of the consultation, we will keep taking to the streets," a demonstrator said. "It is important for the public to know the reality of the matter, we need peace in our country."

The demonstrators, who included ex-combatants from the capital, Bujumbura, as well as the countryside, said DDR officials had asked them to "wait for two weeks" to get their payment.

A spokesman of the DDR programme, Libere Hicuburundi, denied that there was a problem with the payment of the ex-combatants. He said the reinsertion of former combatants and militaries continued as normal.

He added that the identity of the demonstrators had not been established. Regarding their payment, Hicuburundi said a certain amount of the fee was paid soon after demobilisation and the rest in instalments three months apart. Support for reintegration was given in kind, he added.

Despite preparation of elections that would bring democratic rule to Burundi, rebel attacks continue in the province of Bujumbura Rural, which surrounds the capital. The latest attack resulted in the death of six people on Thursday, in the commune of Muhuta in Bujumbura Rural.


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