ACCESSION NUMBER:342598 FILE ID:TXT402 DATE:05/05/94 TITLE:NICARAGUAN REBELS DISARM (05/05/94) TEXT:*94050502.TXT NICARAGUAN REBELS DISARM (VOA Editorial) (300) (Following is an editorial, broadcast by the Voice of America May 5, reflecting the views of the U.S. government.) Members of the last major group of contras, the rebel force that fought against Nicaragua's Marxist Sandinista government in the 1980s, have disarmed. In exchange for demobilizing, the Nicaraguan government has granted the rebels amnesty and agreed to provide them with land and to incorporate some of them into the national police force. The agreement between the government and the last of the contras brings closer an end to the insecurity, tragedy and violence in Nicaragua. The road to national reconciliation in that country has been rocky. President Violetta Chamorro has faced a daunting array of political, military and economic problems since the Nicaraguan people elected her in 1990. But as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Alexander Watson said in a recent speech in Managua, "In recent weeks, a fragile optimism has taken hold. It has been heartening to see political rivals moderate their differences and accept joint responsibility for ending political disarray. With national elections just two years away," said Watson, "1994 is without question a critical year for democratic consolidation and economic recovery in Nicaragua." One major issue is the need to assert civilian control over the military and intelligence services. Lasting reconciliation cannot take place unless the rule of law and civilian authority over the security forces are securely established. And only such reconciliation can end Nicaragua's political violence and polarization and bring about renewed economic growth and development. As Ambassador Watson made clear, in its approach to Nicaragua, the United States will continue to support the democratic process. Ultimately, however, it is Nicaraguans and only Nicaraguans who can solve their country's problems. NNNN .