Twenty-two ex-combatants of the Mai-Mai Yakotumba rebel movement who surrendered to the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) in early 2021 have threatened to return to the marquis to continue fighting alongside their leader, William Amiri Yakotumba.
According to civil society sources, the ex-combatants said they have been abandoned by MONUSCO, adding that they were threatened by their former leader, Amiri Yakotumba, who has been bitter because they surrendered.
“For now, the Yakotumba armed group is searching for all those who betrayed it by surrendering to MONUSCO, so those who laid down their arms are in danger,” said Nondo Gregoire, president of the civil society in the Lulenge sector.
“For one thing, they no longer live in the village and so living away from their village, they are suffering a lot. I have contacted MONUSCO and presented their problem but to date MONUSCO has said nothing.
“Yakotumba says he considers them deserters. Due to the lack of assistance from MONUSCO and FARDC, these youths say they are ready to return to Yakotumba.”
The civil society and other local organisations have expressed concerns over the negative consequences that may result if the ex-combatants return to the bushes.
“We as the civil society demand for the intervention of the state before these youths return to the marquis because their surrender had produced positive results notably the reduction in the number of thefts by highway bandits in the Lulenge sector,” Nondo said.
If the ex-rebels return to the marquis, it would not be the first time that former rebels who surrendered return to the bushes in Fizi territory.
In 2019, just after President Felix Tshisekedi took over power, Mai-Mai rebels who had laid down their arms and grouped themselves in the village of Lusambo in Tangayika territory returned to the bushes after the government and MONUSCO failed to adequately take care of them.
This situation has been reported in other provinces particularly in North Kivu, Ituri, and Haut-Katanga where ex-combatants who had laid down their arms were forced to return into the bushes because they were not rehabilitated and reintegrated into society.
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