Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Bisengimana, a senior commander with the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR), turned himself in to the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) (MONUSCO) on Wednesday (16 Feb) and will be transferred to a camp for demobilized soldiers in Rwanda today (17 Feb).
In an interview during his repatriation to Rwanda, he said he condemned any FDLR soldiers who commit rape. He added that he is "personally convinced" by the UN demobilisation and disarmament programme.
After more than a year of negotiations, MONUSCO's Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration, Repatriation and Repatriation (DDRRR) programme extracted the FDLR leader, also known Sam-Kunda Mutima, from Ntoto territory in Walikale, eastern DRC.
According to MONUSCO, Bisengimana was responsible for mobilizing civilian support for the FDLR and also facilitated recruitment.
Before joining the FDLR, Bisengimana was a member of the former Rwandan Armed Forces responsible of the genocide against Tutsis in 1994.
His defection follows the extraction from three other members of the FDLR last month. Last year, 1,881 FDLR members, including 64 officers, opted for voluntary surrender and disarmament under the MONUSCO demobilization programme.
MONUSCO's DDRRR expert Walimba Mass added that since 2009, the programme had “already repatriated 4,054 ex-combatants, among them 117 officers.”
Another DDRRR officer Herve Hesse said “many of them would like to go back to their country.”
Bisengimana is now being repatriated to a camp for demobilized soldiers in Mutobo, north-western Rwanda.
According to the Rwanda Demobilization and Reintegration Commission, ex-armed groups have been the biggest challenge for the country where around 6,000 men belonging to the FDLR are still expected to join this program.