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Repatriation for 100-plus Rwanda rebels from Congo

Annan welcomes repatriation of more than 100 Rwanda rebels from DR of Congo

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today welcomed the voluntary repatriation of more than 100 high-level members of the rebel Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) and called on other armed Rwandans in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to seize the opportunity to return home.

He congratulated Rwanda and the FDLR leaders "for the strength of the political will demonstrated by them to negotiate this repatriation, and to end the long-standing conflict through peaceful means," a UN spokesperson, Marie Okabe, told the daily news briefing.

"This development represents a major breakthrough in the peace process," she said. "The Secretary-General is gratified that the ongoing efforts to normalize relations between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda within the framework of the Declaration of Good Neighbourly Relations and Cooperation have accelerated."

Mr. Annan also urged the DRC and Rwanda to encourage the remaining armed Rwandan groups in the DRC to return home, she said.

The UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) said yesterday, "According to the information the Rwandan authorities gave MONUC chief William Swing, at the end of his official visit to Kigali on 13 and 14 November, those who returned comprised the High Command of the FDLR."

MONUC said it would redouble its peacekeeping efforts, in the framework it calls "Disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, reintegration and reinsertion (DDRRR)."

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