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BANGUI, 17 May 2012 (IRIN) - The Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process relating to former rebels in the Central African Republic (CAR) is back on track: More than 1,000 already disarmed fighters of the Popular Army for the Restoration of Democracy (APRD) led by Jean Jacques Démafouth began to be demobilized on 12-13 May.

APRD says 1,431 disarmed ex-combatants were demobilized on 12 May in the northern-central prefecture of Nana Gribizi in the presence of the Central African Armed Forces; representatives of the Mission for the Consolidation of Peace Central Africa (MICOPAX); Jean Jacques Démafouth in his capacity as senior vice-president of the DDR Steering Committee; and CAR Disarmament Minister Gen Xavier Sylvestre Yagaongo (second vice-chairman of the committee). The process is due to take a week to complete.

On 12 May, a first group of 200 ex-combatants surrendered their weapons for demobilization ID cards. They received reinsertion kits consisting of household goods provided by the government and the UN Development Programme, before being given medical examinations. Each demobilized person gets 169,300 CFA francs (258 euros).

Ex-combatants can choose between military or civilian life. The latter means farming, joining the National Youth Pioneers, or undertaking various skills training courses.

The revival of the DDR process comes after a setback caused by the arrest in early January of Jean Jacques Démafouth (on charges of endangering state security) and funding problems. However, Démafouth was released five weeks ago and an appeal has been made to the UN for more funding.

Yangongo said last week: "The first phase of operations relates to APRD... Once completed, the process will switch to other rebels especially in Kabo (northern CAR).

APRD had 7,000 fighters, at least 4,000 of whom have already been disarmed. Apart from APRD, five other movements which have signed peace agreements with the government are involved in the DDR process.


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