News / Africa

    DRC Armed Groups Ready to Demobilize, Activists Say

    FILE - U.N. peacekeepers from Tanzania hold their weapons as they patrol outside Goma during a visit by officials from the U.N. Security Council in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, October 2013.
    FILE - U.N. peacekeepers from Tanzania hold their weapons as they patrol outside Goma during a visit by officials from the U.N. Security Council in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, October 2013.
    Nick Long
    Several armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have said they are ready to lay down their weapons, following the army's defeat of M23 rebels. Since then, there has been a series of letters and declarations by other militias expressing their willingness to be demobilized.

    It has been two weeks since the M23 rebels fled from their last holdouts in Congo after coming under intense bombardments from the U.N.-backed Congolese army.

    Other armed groups in North Kivu province seem anxious to avoid the same fate.

    Several of them are ready to give up their activities and demobilize, according to documents VOA has seen that apparently were signed by their leaders.

    One of these documents appears to have been signed by leaders of the Mai Mai Kifuafua and Raia Mutomboki groups in Walikale territory - two groups that recently were fighting each other. Another comes apparently from the so-called Cheka group, which has been repeatedly condemned for human rights violations, and named as a priority target by the U.N.

    Researcher Fidel Bafilemba, who works for the NGO the Enough Project in eastern Congo, told VOA the documents are genuine. He said they are authentic and were given to Enough by local government officials in Walikale, and were then confirmed by a Catholic priest who helped organize a peacemaking dialogue.

    The signatories to one of the documents pledge to abandon all armed group activities and to join the army or return to civilian life, without conditions.

    The other document from the Cheka does pose conditions, as it asks the government to integrate its fighters in the army and to recognize their self-proclaimed “ranks.”

    There are said to be some 30 armed groups in eastern Congo. Bafilemba said most of the others also have pledged to demobilize, with some already partly integrated in the army, while others are disintegrating as their members desert.

    He said it really is an avalanche, a tidal wave of armed groups giving up since the Congolese army defeated the M23, which he said was, in a sense, the reason for their existence.

    A civil society leader in Walikale, Prince Kihangi Kyawami, also said the armed groups in the territory have pledged to demobilize. A civil society spokesman for North Kivu province, Djento Maundu, said the same was true for the whole province.

    Both the Congolese army and the U.N. mission MONUSCO have said their number one target among the armed groups is now the Rwandan rebel group FDLR, whose core members include perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide.

    As for the FDLR, said Bafilemba, they have received an ultimatum from the DRC army high command to lay down their arms, and already had written to the DRC president saying they were ready to disarm, but had concerns about their repatriation.

    A senior Congolese government delegation, including several generals and the interior minister, was in North Kivu at the weekend. The minister told reporters he was there to discuss the province’s reconstruction, but he did not give further details.

    Non-governmental organizations have called on the government to revive a program for demobilizing Congolese combatants and helping them to rejoin civilian life.

    You May Like

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora