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Ex-soldiers integrated into national army

A total of 480 out of 800 former soldiers who recently returned from exile to the Central African Republic (CAR) have been integrated in the army and the public service, Communications Minister Parfait Mbaye told IRIN on Wednesday.

He said the remaining 320 included former military refugees who were in Camp Bokilio, in northwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Some 275 former soldiers and their families returned in August from the Congo after two years in exile.

Mostly from the Yakoma ethnic group of former President Andre Kolingba, the soldiers had fled the country in June 2001, when Kolingba's attempt to oust President Ange-Felix Patasse failed. Most of the soldiers were sentenced in absentia by a criminal court in the capital, Bangui. They returned home after President Francois Bozize, who ousted Patasse on 15 March, granted them amnesty.

Torn by repeated crises since 1996, the country's transitional government is facing the issue of disarmament, demobilisation, reinsertion and reintegration of former soldiers and rebel combatants. It had been reported that the administrative procedures for the integration of former soldiers were slow.

Another group of former combatants due to undergo a similar programme comprise former rebels loyal to Bozize. Some of them have been trained and integrated into the army, but many others are yet to be integrated.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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