Bangui (AFP) Aug 17, 2009
The Central African Republic government has set a three-year timetable to disarm, demobilise and reintegrate former rebels, Communications Minister Cyriaque Gonda said on state radio Monday.
"This is a programme that should normally last for 36 months. During that period, all those demobilised will be part of the process, in training centres or at school," said Gonda, who is also government spokesman.
Between 6,000 and 10,000 fighters are believed to be involved.
Central African Republic, one of the world's poorest countries, has long been unstable, but five rebel groups have signed peace treaties with President Francois Bozize and a full-fledged peace forum was held in December 2008.
The peace deals also brought some rebel leaders into a new government formed in January after talks attended by the political opposition and civil society leaders as well as rebels and rulers.
Gonda said that in the first phase of the disarmament, which began on August 13 and will last for a month, leaders will be "directly contacting the rebels on the ground, in their strongholds, in the bush."
Five of the country's 14 administrative districts are concerned: the Nana Gribizi and Ouham-Pende regions in the northwest, Ouham in the north, Haute Kotto in the east and Vakaga in the northeast.
Two rebel movements have already provided lists of their fighters, a third has given a "less exhaustive" tally, and two others have yet to do so, because they only recently signed up to the process, Gonda said.
The United Nations presides a steering committee that will oversee the disarmament process.
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