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News :: Peace & War

Power Jockeying in Congo

Less than twenty-four hours after the official end of a five year civil war in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (Background Report) that claimed between 3.3 and 4.7 million lives, the parties to the peace process are already squabbling
Cynical Congolese said at the official swearing-in ceremonies of the new government on Thursday that there has been so much acrimony between the partners in the peace process that success is doubtful at best. If the first day is any signal, hey may have been right.

The issue: some new government members who come from the ranks of the rebel militias refuse to swear an oath of loyalty to President Joseph Kabila. They are accusing him of attempting to extend the powers granted to him in the peace negotiation process that brought the warring parties to this transitional government. According to an official with the rebel group RCD, the ministers "did not want to consecrate a new dictatorship" or "personality cult" by swearing loyalty to Mr Kabila. They say Kabila is the head of the republic, not the head of government in this transitional arrangement which is to bring the nation to full democratic elections in 2005. It is not clear why this should matter nor why such a seemingly trivial issue should arise but observers say this is the sort of jockeying that is to be expected here.

Most Africa-watchers are doubtful of any quick transition from Congo's bloody past to a brighter future and they expect uniting this country could take several generations. DRC is about four times the size of France and has little communications infrastructure, including roads, so that management would be a Herculean task even in non-adversarial circumstances. correspondent Paul Harris drafted this report

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