BURUNDI’S LAST REBEL FORCE DROPS ARMS


African Union troops are physically disarming 21,000 fighters from Burundi’s last active rebel group, the Forces for National Liberation (FNL).

It follows a weekend ceremony where FNL leader Agathon Rwasa symbolically surrendered his own weapons to the AU.

The BBC’s Prime Ndikumagenge says if all goes according to plan, the FNL will officially become a political party at 1300 GMT.

About 300,000 people were killed in more than a decade of ethnic conflict.

Our correspondent says the AU forces are going to three assembly points to collect the weapons.

Some 3,500 combatants are to be integrated into the army and police.

FNL FIGHTERS

  • Army: 2,100
  • Police: 1,400
  • Demobilised: 5,000
  • Returning home: 12,500
  • Another 5,000 are to receive demobilisation packages – including a week’s course to help them integrate into civilian life – 18 month’s worth of salary and $600 (£410) to start a business.

    The rest – some 12,500 men – will be sent back to civilian life with an estimated $80 (£55).

    Our reporter says there is concern amongst villagers around the capital that so many fighters are going home without receiving substantial support.

    But FNL leader Mr Rwasa told the BBC’s Network Africa programme the country relied on donor funding and only had enough money to help so many fighters.

    He also said ex-rebels would be considered first when it came to employing people for development projects.

    Asked if he would ever take up arms again, he replied: “No.

    “This decade of fighting is enough to teach every Burundian we have to refrain from whatever has been the cause of violence in the country.”

    SOURCED FROM BBC

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