DRC rebels want new demob scheme

2016-06-17 19:35
Congolese army soldiers march past a tank aimed towards Kibumba Hill, which is occupied by M23 rebels, around 25kms from the provincial capital Goma, in eastern Congo. (Joseph Kay, AP)

Congolese army soldiers march past a tank aimed towards Kibumba Hill, which is occupied by M23 rebels, around 25kms from the provincial capital Goma, in eastern Congo. (Joseph Kay, AP)

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Lubumbashi - DR Congo's disbanded M23 rebel movement Friday called on the government to agree a new demobilisation scheme following deadly clashes in a camp housing former rebels dissatisfied with the conditions there.

M23 leader Bertrand Bisimwa said in a statement the deaths of several people in clashes this week between the army and ex-rebels showed the need for a new disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programme.

"The repetition of these deadly incidents, the government's inability to carry through its own programme and the poor living conditions in these demob centres have turned them into death-traps," Bisimwa said.

M23 wanted to work with the government to set out a "more realistic" and attractive demobilisation programme for the Democratic Republic of Congo, he said.

Asked by AFP to respond, government spokesperson Lambert Mende said "M23 doesn't exist. We don't need to respond to non-existent entities."

Tension had been mounting for days at the military base in Kamina, in the southeast, where more than 2 300 former rebels from various groups are stationed as part of a government disarmament programme.

It was unclear how many died in the bloody clashes, but one rebel source put the toll at around 10 while an army source said at least 20 people were killed.

After the defeat of M23 in 2013, the government launched a programme known as DDR3 to disarm, demobilise and reintegrate more than 12 000 former rebels.

But the programme, the third of its kind since the end of the Second Congo War in 2003, has been hit by delays and funding problems.

Kamina has previously faced a mutiny from the disgruntled former rebels, who have complained about the living standards on the base.

A Western military source said the latest clashes expose the limitations of the DDR3 programme and may deter other rebels from laying down arms and hamper the repatriation of former M23 refugees to Rwanda and Uganda.

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