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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 November, 2003, 18:41 GMT
Rwandan rebel gives up the fight
Some skulls of Rwandans massacred in the 1994 genocide
Many rebel soldiers are implicated in the genocide
The leader of a Rwandan Hutu rebel group which includes some of those who took part in the genocide of 1994 has surrendered to the government.

Militia leader Paul Rwarakabije arrived in the capital Kigali on a Rwandan army helicopter after nearly a decade in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Accompanied by about 100 militiamen, he said he realised that violence was not the answer to Rwanda's problems.

He was embraced by the army chief, General James Kabarebe.

We have decided to put down guns - war is not the best solution
Paul Rwarakabije
The group which he led, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, brought together members of the former Rwandan army and Interahamwe fighters.

Many of the rebels are implicated in the genocide in which an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered.

The group is estimated to have between 15,000 and 20,000 troops fighting the Rwandan Government from bases in the jungle of the eastern DR Congo.

'Important moment'

A smiling Mr Rwarakabije was given a cordial welcome on his return to Kigali after giving himself up in the southwestern town of Cyangugu.

"We have decided to put down guns," he said. "War is not the best solution."

"This is a very important moment for Rwanda," said General Kaberebe. "The people we have been fighting with have made a decisive decision to come back in peace and abandon fighting. This is very interesting and very welcome."

Sharoah Sharif, head of the UN peacekeeping mission in the Congolese province where Mr Rwarakabije's troops were based, also called the surrender "a very positive development".

Mr Rwarakabije was a major in the Rwandan police before the 1994 genocide.

He rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the old Rwandan army before it was defeated by the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front headed by current President Paul Kagame.

Around two million Hutus fled to DR Congo, then known as Zaire.

More recently, rebels under Mr Rwarakabije fought alongside the troops of DR Congo President Laurent Kabila against Rwandan Government troops and Congolese rebels.

But Rwandan troops pulled out of DR Congo earlier this year as part of a peace deal signed in July.


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