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DR Congo: rebel leader abandons armed group under UN demobilisation scheme

16 February 2011 – The United Nations peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) today reported that a senior member of one of the most troublesome armed groups in the eastern region of the country has turned himself in under the demobilisation programme run by the mission.

Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Bisengimana, also known as Sam Mutima-Kunda, a village chief and influential figure in the Forces démocratiques de Liberation du Rwanda (FDLR) – formed by Rwandan ethnic Hutus linked to the 1994 genocide – defected yesterday after year-long negotiations, according to the mission (MONUSCO).

The mission said his defection under the terms of its Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration, Rehabilitation and Repatriation (DDRRR) programme dealt a serious blow to the FDLR, which he served as a member of the high command.

Lt-Col. Bisengimana was responsible for mobilizing civilian support for the FDLR and facilitated recruitment, according to MONUSCO.

Before fleeing Rwanda to DRC’s North Kivu province in the wake of the genocide, he was a company commander in the Rwandan army.

His defection follows the extraction from the FDLR of three other fighters with the rank of major last month. Last year, 1,881 FDLR rebels, including 64 officers, opted for voluntary surrender and disarmament under the MONUSCO demobilisation programme.

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