DR Congo

DR Congo/South Kivu: Maï-Maï groups agree to join demobilization programme in Uvira

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Oscar Mercado / MONUC

On Monday 17 November 2008, South Kivu governor Louis-Leonce Muderhwa met the Maï-Maï leaders of the Zabuloni and Shikito groups in Uvira, within the framework of the sensitization arm of the Amani programme. The Maï-Maï gave their agreement in principle to accept disarmament and demobilization and to send their combatants next week to the Luberizi military training camp, located 50 km north of Uvira.

The meeting took place in the Pakistani Blue Helmets camp, in the presence of the representative of MONUC's Bukavu office, Sheik Bangoura, and of the chief of the DRC Armed Forces (FARDC) 10th military region, General Patrick Mazunzu, with the aim of sensitizing the Maï-Maï groups of the area, within the framework of the Amani programme.

The two groups, signatories of the Goma peace agreements, gave their agreement in principle to send their manpower to Luberizi camp in which they will be grouped, registered and trained, while respecting the principle of "one man, one weapon."

The Zabuloni and Shikito groups expressed their concern with respect to the FRF (Forces Républicaines Fédéralistes) operating in the high plateaus of Uvira. Although they signed the Goma peace agreements of January last, the FRF left the Amani programme.

The governor explained the measures being taken to curb the FRF's activity, which includes various pressure to bring them to disarmament and demobilization. The two groups said they were satisfied with this response, but required concrete actions as soon as possible.

Another point under discussion was the acceptance to the rank of officers of the leaders of the two Maï-Maï groups as they enter the new training programme. They were informed that they initially need to undertake the process of evaluation of the ranks obtained within the militia.

After the meeting, Louis-Leonce Muderhwa, who paid his first official visit to Uvira territory, declared that "the preconditions demanded by the groups are not insurmountable."

The Maï-Maï manpower, estimated at a few thousands combatants, should join Luberizi training camp, starting from the next week. During the morning the delegation from Bukavu inspected the future installations of the camp, intended to accommodate demobilized soldiers.

Luberizi camp currently accommodates soldiers of the future trained and integrated FARDC brigades which are on standby formation. Last August, 1,800 soldiers left the training centre and were then deployed in the area.

This project of disarmament and demobilization of the Maï-Maï groups in the South Kivu is managed by the Amani programme, with the financial support of the Netherlands government, which gave a contribution of 2.5 million dollars for the creation of three centres of regroupment and training in the territories of Uvira and Fizi.