02102016Wed
Last update: Wed, 10 Feb 2016 08pm

DRCongo rebel chief Cobra Matata transfered to Kinshasa

Democratic Republic of Congo rebel leader Cobra Matata arrived handcuffed in the capital Kinshasa Monday amid army accusations that he'd sought to resume his insurgency in the country's north-east. A ranking officer of the Congolese army told AFP Sunday that the surrendered rebel chief - whose real name is Banaloki Matata - was being transferred to Kinshasa following an "attempt to flee to his former guerrilla turf" in the Ituri district of the north-eastern Orientale province.

Matata was arrested Friday while allegedly seeking to rejoin units of the Patriotic Revolutionary Forces of Ituri (FRPI) that he commanded until late last year, presumably to resume leadership of its armed uprising. He arrived, wearing a Congolese army uniform, aboard a plane of the UN's MONUSCO force flown from Bunia in the Orientale province at 2:30 pm (13:30 GMT).

The army official told AFP that once Matata had arrived in Kinshasa, "there'd be a review and full constitution of his case file by (military) services, and its subsequent transfer to the military justice system." A deserter of the national army, Matata took charge of the FRPI in 2010. Last November he surrendered with several other leaders of his insurrection to military authorities. All told, some 400 FRPI fighters agreed to put down their arms, but the surrender process quickly bogged down and little progress in their decommissioning has been made.

While negotiating his November surrender, Matata demanded to be reinstated in the DRCongo army with the grade of general. He also insisted members of his militia be given a general amnesty, and those agreeing to surrender be integrated into the army with the same rank they'd attained in the FRPI.

The FRPI is one of many militias formed along largely ethnic lines that fought in Ituri between 1999 and 2007 for a stake in the natural resources - including gold - the region is rich with. Several thousands of FRPI militants and many more from other rebel forces accepted demobilisation in 2004-2006 but the group began reforming in late 2007.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015