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CONGO: Ntoumi "problem" is solved, says President

BRAZZAVILLE, 5 October 2007 (IRIN) - The Congolese President, Denis Sassou Nguesso, has called on former rebel leader Frédéric Bintsangou, alias Pasteur Ntoumi, to return to Brazzaville to take up his general delegate post "without conditions".

"Today, [we can say] there no longer is a Ntoumi problem in the country. He should come to take up office without conditions," Nguesso told the media on 4 October.

Ntoumi was appointed to the position of general delegate in charge of the promotion of peace and post-conflict reconstruction by presidential decree in May.

He was expected to take up his post on 10 September but the ceremony failed to take place after a breakdown in negotiations between his and the government's representatives regarding the number of ex-combatants allowed to accompany him to Brazzaville, the capital.

The ex-combatants who had accompanied him were dispersed by elements of the special forces (Commandement des unités spécialisées) in which at least two (ex-combatants) were killed, according to the government. Ntoumi's party, the Conseil national des républicains, said 15 were killed.

Ntoumi's ex-combatant ninjas fought the Congolese army (Forces armées congolaises) in the Pool region between 1998 and 2003. Ntoumi's forces are expected to take part in the country's demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration (DDR) programme.

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Copyright © IRIN 2007
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