Two top Contra leaders have surrendered their weapons as an example to more than 10,000 other rebels who are reluctant to give up their arms after nine years of civil war.
Enrique Zelaya Cruz, known as Commander Henry, and Miguel Angel Sosa, alias Commander Emiliano, Monday handed over their automatic rifles to U.N. peacekeeping forces in a ceremony arranged by the government of President Violeta Chamorro."Emiliano is one of the hardest and most dangerous of the Contra leaders," said Santiago Murray, an Organization of American States offical monitoring the disarmament. "It is important for the leaders to disarm. It sets an example."
Two civilian Contra leaders - Pepe Matus and Bernardo Pastora - also registered their names Monday among the some 3,500 Contras who have demobilized.
Dozens of other Contras also turned in their weapons Monday at El Almendro, about 150 miles east of Managua, the center of one of five security zones set up throughout Nicaragua for the disarmament.
The Contras are under an agreement with the Chamorro government to disarm all their forces by June 10, but it was clear Monday that not even half of the estimated 15,000 Contras were likely to meet that deadline.
"June 10 is not set in stone," Zelaya said. "A lot of us are waiting for the reduction to begin in the Sandinista army to give us more confidence that the war is over."