Zuma: DRC rebels miss deadline to disarm

2015-01-04 07:08

The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) have missed the deadline set by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to voluntarily disarm themselves.

“The deadline set by the heads of state and government of SADC... for the FDLR to disarm voluntarily or face military action expired yesterday, 2 January 2015,” said SADC chairperson President Jacob Zuma yesterday.

A joint summit by the SADC heads of states would be held in Luanda, Angola, to decide on the appropriate action to be taken.

Zuma urged the FDLR to come forward and disarm themselves unconditionally.

“SADC remains committed to the internationally mandated objective of neutralising all negative forces operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including the FDLR, and remains ready to play its fullest part in this regard,” he said.

The east of the DRC has been a conflict area for two decades, reported French news agency Agence France-Presse last month.

It was the scene of two major wars between 1996 and 2003, with neighbouring countries including Uganda and Rwanda intervening directly or using militias to do their bidding.

In spite of the presence of 20 000 UN peacekeepers, about 50 Congolese and foreign armed groups are still active in the region.

As part of accords signed in February 2013 to bring peace to the Great Lakes region, Kinshasa promised to overhaul its armed forces and promote national reconciliation and democratic reform.

Last Sunday 151 FDLR combatants disarmed voluntarily and 67 weapons were handed over in the North and South Kivu provinces.

“This brings the total number of combatants who have disarmed since May 2014 to 337 and the number of weapons handed over to 234,” said Zuma.

This was approximately 24% of the FDLR’s total armed members.

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