KIGALI, Rwanda

The Democratic Republic of Congo government plans to start the disarmament of a militia operating in the northeastern Ituri province on May 5, local media reported on Wednesday. 

The Ituri Patriotic Resistance Force (FRPI), a militia based in Ituri’s Gety region, signed a peace deal with the government on Feb. 28.

However, the demobilization of the group and its more than 1,000 members was delayed due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The process was delayed due to coronavirus lockdown. But the government remains committed to the deal; that is why a new date was set,” local media reports quoted Alain Kashindi Assumani, the coordinator for the demobilization process, as saying.

“Demobilization sites are already set. We are doing everything we can to ensure that disarmament begins by May 5.”

He said the new date was agreed at a meeting attended by Congolese Prime Minister Ilunga Ilunkamba and top security officials.

The agreement is expected to bring an end to nearly two decades of insecurity in Irumu territory.

The FRPI’s demands while signing the peace deal included amnesty for its fighters and release of political prisoners.

Kashindi said the group has released several children and also handed over a list of its weapons.

The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Congo welcomed the peace deal and committed to support the demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants.

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