Rwanda is considering the asylum request by Bishop Jean Marie Runiga, the former Civilian leader of the M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo and his fighters.
Runiga fled to Kigali in March this year with some of his troops after he was toppled from the rebel leadership by Colonel Sultan Makenga, the commander of the rebel forces. Sources in Kigali indicate that Bishop Jean Marie Runiga has denounced rebellion and formally applied for asylum in Rwanda.
Seraphine Mukantabana, the Rwanda Disaster Preparedness and Refugee Affairs Minister, has confirmed the request by the former Congolese rebel leader for asylum. Mukantabana says that the National Refugee Council is set to scrutinize all the applications of the ex-M23 rebels who are seeking asylum in Rwanda after they renounced rebellion.
The minister says Runiga and his group committed themselves in May this year to stop their rebel activities in a meeting with officials of diplomatic missions in Kigali and international agencies, who visited them in Ngoma Camp in Eastern Province.
There are about 682 ex-M23 rebels in various camps in Rwanda. It is not clear how Rwanda will address the issue Brigadier General Boudine Ngaruye and Innocent Kaina who were banned from international travel and their assets freezed by the UN Security Council for alleged recruitment of child soldiers.
However, Mauren Wanzige, the acting chairperson of the National refugee council in Rwanda says that since both former rebel leaders have denounced rebellion, their past shouldn’t be an issue.