15.07.2006 Congo

DR Congo backs 'guns for bikes'

By bbc
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A scheme under which gunmen in the Democratic Republic of Congo are given bicycles in exchange for their weapons is being extended due to its success.

Ngoy Mulunda, a pastor in the south-eastern Katanga region, says he has been given some 6,500 weapons in the past year, which he has destroyed.

The programme is now being extended to the neighbouring South Kivu province.

A BBC correspondent says it has proved more successful than the UN disarmament exercise, following a five-year war.

The BBC's Jonathan Kacelewa in Bukavu says a bicycle, worth about $50, makes a big difference to the lives of local people.

In South Kivu, however, zinc roofing sheets are being given out instead of bicycles.

The scheme, run through Pastor Mulunda's NGO Parec, is now being backed by President Joseph Kabila.

Congolese troops, backed by United Nations peacekeepers, have been forcibly disarming militias in eastern DR Congo ahead of landmark elections due to take place on 30 July.

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