In the Republic of Congo, Frederic Bistangou, also known as Pastor Ntumi, has agreed to destroy some of his arms in a ceremony. Bistangou is the leader of the “Ninja Rebels,” a renegrade group that named themselves after the famous Japanese warriors. These rebels were responsible for the five-year insurgency in south-eastern Republic of Congo that lasted until 2003. The intense fighting between the rebels and the government displaced thousands of civilians who resided in the southern Pool region. In March 2003, Pastor Ntumi agreed to end the insurgency and allowed for the government to maintain control over Pool region.
Pastor Ntumi now plans to play an active role in the peace and reconciliation efforts. Furthermore, Ntumi wants to transform the “Ninja Rebels” into a political party. In May 2007, there were a significant amount of negotiations between Pastor Ntumi and President Denis Sassou-Nguesso. Nguesso plans to keep 60 bodyguards while absorbing 250 rebels into the national army. The remaining rebels will enter a disarmament and reintegration program.
There will be a two day ceremony to mark the commencement of the disarmament process. This ceremony will take place in Kinkala, the provincial capital of the southern Pool region. The Pool region was once deemed the “breadbasket of the Congo,” but after the civil war, this area has suffered from poor infrastructure, poverty, and famine.
Analysts are skeptical of Ntumi’s power to influence the rebels to disarm. Historically, the Ninja fighters have shown a deep seeded mistrust of the government. In 2003, under the first peace deal, very few of the Ninjas accepted the government’s offer of amnesty in exchange for disarmament.
For more information, please see:
BBC – Country Profiles: Democratic Republic of Congo – June 2007
BBC – Congo’s Ninja Leader to Disarm – 06 June 2007
VOA – Congo Brazzaville’s Nguesso Names Ex-Rebel to Government – 23 May 2007