LOCAL leaders and security personnel have been called upon to unite forces against the unchecked possession of small arms in districts of Nyabihu, Rutsiro, Ngororero and Rubavu.
Isaiah Bagabo, communications officer in the commission in charge of fighting illegal small arms in the Great Lakes region, said at the Stipp Hotel in Gisneyi that there were “hundreds” of small arms illegally owned in the area.
Although various countries in the region have addressed the small arms problem differently, Rwanda had achieved much in fighting against their illegal ownership.
According to Bagabo, there are few countries that have implemented the Nairobi Protocol, calling for a coordinated effort in stopping the transnational menace.
Superintendent Eric Kayiranga, head of the national commission on small arms, said that Rwanda had taken a big step in tracing and destroying these arms, which he said had been publicly burned twice, totally over 7,500.
He called upon local leaders and the police to join hands against the spread of these small arms and asked residents who still illegally owned them to voluntarily surrender them to the police.
“Small arms have played a destructive role in this country. They were distributed by the former leaders to civilians and were used during the 1994 Genocide to kill Rwandans.
Those arms have not been removed from civilians. Many still own them especially in Western Province where genocide activities were rampant,” he said.
Western Province ranks as having the largest number of illegal small arms due to various operations that took place in the area during and after 1994, where it was home the Zone Turquoise French-led military operation.
The districts’ proximity to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which held its second and first in forty years national elections in 2006.