CONGO: Ex-rebel group must disarm - president
BRAZZAVILLE, 2 May 2007 (IRIN) - A former Congolese rebel group that has transformed itself into a political party must disarm its militia and hand in its weapons for destruction before it can be considered a genuine political organisation, President Denis Sassou Nguesso said.
Le Comité national pour le résistance (CNR) of former rebel leader Frédéric Bintsangou, alias Pastor Ntoumi, announced in January that the movement would become a political party and take part in legislative elections scheduled for June and July 2007. The party is known as the Conseil national des républicains.
"Ntoumi’s movement must surrender its arms and abandon any form of violence in order to be considered a political party," Nguesso said during a meeting with administrative officials and traditional chiefs of the Bouenza district in the southwest of the country on Monday.
"We should get rid of violence in our country. We have to create real conditions for peace in every area of the country," the president added.
Ntoumi's former rebels were active in the administrative department of the Pool, scene of several civil wars between 1998 and 2002.
"Nobody can evoke violence when we are talking about dialogue and looking for consensus," said Nguesso. "We cannot accept that legislative elections do not take place throughout the Pool department."
Legislative elections in 2002 were held in only eight of Pool's 14 constituencies because of widespread insecurity as the army fought the rebels.
On Friday, the Congolese government and CNR representatives signed an agreement that puts Ntoumi in charge of humanitarian affairs. It was the first time that the CNR and the government had signed a ‘direct agreement’ since 17 March 2003, when both parties reaffirmed a peace agreement that facilitated an end to the hostilities between the ‘Ninja’ fighters of the CNR and the regular army in the Pool region between 1998 and 2002.
The new deal calls for the destruction of arms belonging to Ntoumi’s fighters, as well as the integration of 250 members of his militia into the national army. The integration will be done according to the procedure chosen by the national programme of demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration.
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