Key Rwandan rebel surrenders - UN

2011-02-16 21:53

Kinshasa - A leading rebel figure in charge of recruitment of Rwandan Hutus in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has turned himself in to the UN mission in the country, the UN said Wednesday.

Samuel Bisengimana, also known as Sam Kunda-Mutina, was a member of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) high command in the DRC where he was tasked with "mobilising civilian support and recruitment," said a statement issued by the UN Observer Mission in the DRC (Monusco).

The 43-year-old surrendered Tuesday at Ntoto, in Nord-Kivu province, "after more than a year of negotiations".

"His family who lived with him in the forest left for Uganda a year ago," a UN official told AFP.

"There were extensive negotations. We needed to convince him because those who want to give up are afraid of FDLR revenge attacks."

Bisengimana fled from genocide-wracked Rwanda across the border to eastern DRC in 1994 when he was a commander of the Rwandan armed forces.

"He will leave for a training camp for former FDLR fighters in Rwanda tomorrow (Thursday), where he will stay two months," said the official.

He is not seen as one of the group of FDLR leaders that will be held to account for their role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide of ethnic Tutsi but the official said his surrender was still "a major blow to the FDLR".

"There are probably people around him who are very loyal to him and very close. So he has a certain influence and we expect more surrenders," Monusco spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Mamadou Gaye told AFP.

Last year, 1 881 FDLR fighters turned themselves in as part of Monusco's programme to demobilise and reintegrate rebels, more than 1 000 of them Rwandans and nearly 850 Congolese, according to Monusco figures.

The rebels have been more or less contained to forest areas where they continue to target the Congolese armed forces and attack the civilian population.