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Regional News Wed, 28 Nov 2007

Fifteen dissidents surrender to UN blue helmets in North Kivu

Accra, Nov. 28, GNA - One officer and 14 troops who were part of a dissident battalion led by General Laurent Nkunda in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have turned themselves in to the United Nations mission in the country (MONUC).

Commander Micho Bizabaso and 14 of his heavily armed men turned themselves in to MONUC on Monday night after attempting to retake a strategic hill in Sake.

A statement from the UN Information Centre in Accra on Wednesday quoted MONUC as saying the forces approached a UN position with an ultimatum calling for the blue helmets to retreat. MONUC said the peacekeepers refused and instead threatened to disarm them by force if necessary.

"Endeavouring to avoid a resort to force, the UN held negotiations for more than an hour, succeeding at around 2 a.m. in convincing the Commander and his men to deposit their weapons with MONUC and agree to integration in the DRC's army - FARDC."

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In announcing the surrender, MONUC called on other dissident forces and fighters in the region to turn in their weapons and agree to integration in the FARDC, pledging to help all those who wish to participate in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme - or, for the foreigners among them, to repatriate. Fighting between General Nkunda's rebels in Sake and its environs at the beginning of September drove tens of thousands of people from their homes before the UN obtained a cessation of hostilities in the area.

The UN estimates that some 400,000 people have been newly displaced in North Kivu since December 2006.

Source: GNA
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