Annan welcomes rebel Rwandan force's intention to return home from DR of Congo

Annan welcomes rebel Rwandan force's intention to return home from DR of Congo

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today welcomed a statement by Rwanda's main rebel group that it condemns the 1994 genocide in that country, renounces the use of force and will disarm, return peacefully to Rwanda from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and cooperate with the international justice system.

He urged the DRC and Rwandan Governments to cooperate in ensuring that these commitments, announced in Rome after secret negotiations, do take place and he directed the UN peacekeeping operation to assist the process.

The UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) had blamed some members of the main Rwandan rebel group, the ethnic Hutu Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), for assaulting civilians in the eastern DRC and causing thousands to become internally displaced persons (IDPs).

MONUC chief William Lacy Swing today designated six assembly and registration points for the estimated 13,000 to 15,000 Rwandan militiamen who wanted to take part in Rwanda's programme of disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, re-settlement and re-integration (DDRRR), as well as for their family members. He promised them safe transportation to the Rwandan border.

Repatriation would improve the DRC's security in the run-up to its presidential elections later this year, Mr. Swing said.

Meanwhile, the Mission denied reports in DRC newspapers that tomorrow's disarmament and demobilization deadline for militiamen in the northeastern Ituri district had been extended.

"MONUC will consider those who have not respected the deadline as outlaws," it said.