Contras Set Tough Conditions For Demobilization With PM-Nicaragua-Future, Bjt
EL DESTINO, Nicaragua (AP) _ Angered over continued Sandinista domination of the army and police, the Contras are defying President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro’s appeals to lay down their weapons and rejoin civilian life.
A representative of the president, Roberto Ferrey, traveled Wednesday to a special security zone where the rebels are supposed to disband under U.N. supervision.
Hours after Mrs. Chamorro was sworn in on Wednesday , he urged about 500 armed rebels seated in columns on a sunbaked slope to lay down their weapons.
″You of the resistance must understand that you are not defeated soldiers; that you are heroic combatants who, for love of your country, are willing to lay down your arms and return to civilian life,″ Ferrey said at the close of his 15-minute address through a megaphone.
Previous speakers - one a representative of Nicaragua’s Roman Catholic archbishop, and the other, Arturo Garzon of the Organizaton of American States - received polite applause.
But Ferrey was met with stony silence and stares.
Guerrillas who rose during the following 40 minutes to challenge and question him were heartily cheered, especially when they said they were unwilling to disband while the Sandinista army remained intact.
Garzon issued what he termed ″an invitation and an exhortation″ to the Contras to avail themselves of OAS aid once they decided to hand over their weapons.
Of the dozens interviewed at the assembly, however, not a single Contra said he would hand over his weapon as long as the Sandinistas controlled the army and security forces.
Under an agreement signed last week by leaders of the Contras, the Sandinistas and the new government, the rebels were to begin demobilizing Wednesday.
But the accord appeared headed for a breakdown because Mrs. Chamorro decided as a concilatory measure to allow Gen. Humberto Ortega, brother of former President Daniel Ortega, to stay on as head the army.
Top Contra commander Israel Galeano addressed the troops after meeting briefly with Maj. Jose Luis Grazia of Spain, who was in El Destino representing the U.N. Central American peacekeeping force.
The guerrillas broke out in laughter over the suggestion they lay down their arms. ″Nobody gives up his gun 3/8″ shouted one, and all cheered.
The peacekeepers have no mandate to forcibly disarm the Contras.
El Destino is part of security Zone 1, which is 85 miles north of Managua and covers 174 square miles.
While it is not the largest of five zones designated for the Contra demobilization, it is thought to harbor the most fighters. About 3,000 Contras are estimated to have arrived in the past week.
About 9,000 Contras are to gather in the zones in coming days.
The rebels in Zone 1, who roam the area at will, are unsupervised and have Soviet-made assault rifles, grenade launchers and other weaponry.
Ferrey appealed for demobilization before June 10, the date agreed to in the pact signed last week by Oscar Sobalvarro, the No. 2 man in the Contra command.
Several Contras, though, rose to challenge Ferrey.
″Jackson,″ a regional Contra commander, told the group: ″I’d rather take to the mountains, live in the jungle with my comrades until our conditions are met. And those conditions have not yet been met.″