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Last Updated: Monday, 10 September 2007, 03:42 GMT 04:42 UK
Ninja leader due in Congo capital
By John James
BBC News, Brazzaville

Ninja rebels (photo: Tom Craig)
The Ninjas, who often wear purple, fought for five years
An advance party of around 300 former rebel fighters have arrived in the Congolese capital, Brazzaville, to welcome their leader, Pastor Ntumi.

The ex-fighters, who call themselves the Ninjas, are a semi-religious group led by the guitar-playing Pastor Ntumi, whose real name is Frederick Bintsamou.

He is expected to return to Brazzaville for the first time since he left 10 years ago to launch a guerrilla war.

He signed a peace agreement in April which gives him a government position.

He will serve as junior minister responsible for peace and reparations in return for disbanding his militia.

Pastor Ntumi
Pastor Ntumi signed a peace deal in April

The arrival of the Ninjas in Brazzaville was a surprise for the government which quickly sought to prevent more coming in from the forested Pool region to the west of the capital.

The Ninjas have left their guns behind but have still caused concern in Brazzaville because of their reputation for banditry and rape.

Pastor Ntumi transformed his rebel movement into a political party at the beginning of the year.

The party contested parliamentary elections in June and August, but without success.

If as expected Pastor Ntumi takes up his position as a junior minister on Monday, it could start of the final stage in ending Congo's most recent civil war.

He'll be responsible for the World Bank-funded programme to disarm and reintegrate his 5,000 fighters.


SEE ALSO
Congo's 'Ninja' leader ready for peace
28 Jun 07 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Surviving Congo's Ninja rebels
04 Dec 03 |  Africa
Country profile: Republic of Congo
09 Oct 03 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Republic of Congo
07 May 03 |  Country profiles

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