Ex-rebels urge former colleagues to lay down arms

MUSANZE- Former members of the Congolese-based Rwandan militia group, Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDRL), who have completed a demobilisation and reintegration progamme at Mutobo Demobilisation Centre in Musanze District, have made a plea to their colleagues  still engaged in rebel activities to surrender and return home.
Ex Combatants at Mutobo.  The New Times / File.
Ex Combatants at Mutobo. The New Times / File.

MUSANZE- Former members of the Congolese-based Rwandan militia group, Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDRL), who have completed a demobilisation and reintegration progamme at Mutobo Demobilisation Centre in Musanze District, have made a plea to their colleagues  still engaged in rebel activities to surrender and return home.

Over 400 former military fighters, from several rebel groups including FDLR, Rud-Urunana, FOCA, FADC, are presently undergoing the course at Mutobo.

153 ex-combatants, including two with the rank of major, three captains and two lieutenants, were on Thursday discharged after the three-month course.

“We are sending a message to them to lay down arms and stop fighting a meaningless war. They are misleading the young people involved because Rwanda is a totally transformed society,” implored Maj. Landolin Gahamanyi, the former operations commander of FDLR

The FDLR, and other rebel groups that are stationed in the north and south Kivu, are mainly made up of genocidaires, who fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after carrying out the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

“We realised that those who return are not tortured or killed. Rwandans are united and busy building the nation. Security is tight, a scenario that is totally different from what our commanders initially informed us,” said Gahamanyi.

The chairman of Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission, Jean Sayinzoga, said that the surrendered rebels fighters and commanders had now understood the reality about Rwanda, emphasising that his institution was ready to receive all those ready to halt rebel activities.

Corporal Christine Mukamurenzi, who joined the military in 1979 and later fled after the 1994 genocide, regretted the time she had squandered as a rebel besides losing contact with all her children.

“My prayer has been to return home. All those years I spent in rebel activities have been dreadful after I lost trace of all my children and I now want to rejoin my family’’ said Mukamurenzi said as she wiped off tears

The ex-rebels said that during their course, they grasped a clear perspective of Rwanda’s history, good governance, human rights and justice, unity and reconciliation.

Also present at the function was Col. Peter Wright RA, defense advisor, British High Commission in Kampala, Uganda and officials from various embassies including Burundi, France, and The Netherlands and representatives of the UN stabilisation mission in D.R. Congo (MONUSCO), among others.

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