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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 October 2007, 17:16 GMT 18:16 UK
DR Congo 'to disarm Hutu rebels'
Armed militiamen in DR Congo
An estimated 6,000 Hutu militias are in east DR Congo
The president of the Democratic Republic of Congo says he has drawn up a plan to disarm Hutu militias in a bid to end the crisis in the east.

Joseph Kabila also said he has given the go ahead to the army to prepare for the forced disarmament of renegade General Laurent Nkunda's fighters.

Gen Nkunda says he is fighting to protect the Tutsi minority from Hutu rebels who he says side with the army.

Many Hutu militiamen fled to DR Congo after the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

A deadline for Gen Nkunda to disarm and integrate his forces with the national army was extended from Monday - a new date was not specified.

People here are very shocked about the fighting
Congolese NGO worker Leopold

The UN estimates 6,000 Rwandan Hutu rebels - known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) - are operating in the east.

Gen Nkunda has previously accused the Congolese army of working with other local militia and the FDLR to attack him.

More than 370,000 people have been displaced by the fighting since the start of the year in a growing humanitarian crisis.

'Green light'

President Kabila made his announcement about the Hutu disarmament in the eastern city of Goma where many people caught up in the violence have fled.

Joseph Kabila, DR Congo's president
Mr Nkunda cannot and should not pretend to be the protector of the Tutsis
President Joseph Kabila

Mr Kabila dismissed claims that his army was working with the FDLR.

"Our position has always been that the ex-Far, Interahamwe, FDLR - these people should go back to Rwanda and since 2001 up to date we have repatriated between 15,000 and 20,000 of these people," Mr Kabila told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

"The 6,000 who are remaining we've presented a new plan - an action plan which will see us definitely and once and for all getting over this problem of the ex-Far."

He said the plan been given to Rwanda and the UN to consider and the government was awaiting their response.

"At the same time, we've not yet stopped the military option as there are operations that are ongoing in South Kivu against these groups - and each and everywhere we'll encounter them, of course they will be disarmed," he said.

KEY FORCES IN THE KIVUS
Map of N Kivu in eastern DR Congo
FLNK - new group made up mainly of Congolese Mai Mai with some Rwandan Hutus formerly in the FDLR
FDLR - Hutu militia made up of former Rwandan soldiers and others who fled into Congo after the 1994 genocide
Congolese army
Gen Laurent Nkunda, with an estimated 5,000 soldiers
Monuc - UN Mission in the DR Congo

The president said the army had the "green light" to prepare to disarm Mr Nkunda forcibly as the position towards to the renegade general had not changed.

"Each and everybody who thinks that he wants to be part of the Congolese army has got to go through a process of integration and that option is still on the table," Mr Kabila said.

More than 1,000 of Gen Nkunda's men have presented themselves at disarmament camps, he said.

He added that he did not believe that Congolese Tutsis should be concerned.

"Mr Nkunda cannot and should not pretend to be the protector of the Tutsis.

"In fact, the actions of Mr Nkunda are really creating a situation of mistrust between the communities," the president said.

"Are the Tutsis in danger? No not at all. They're not in danger because we have a national army that is ready and capable of protecting each and every community in this country."

This week's deadline extension for Gen Nkunda followed intense talks with foreign diplomats and the head of the UN peacekeeping mission, William Swing.

A five-year war in DR Congo ended in 2003, but the 17,600 UN peacekeepers in the country (4,300 of them in North Kivu alone) have struggled to keep a lid on instability since then.



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