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DRC: Dissenting Parliamentarians Persuaded To Return to Kinshasa - 2003-09-27

The leader of the largest ex-rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo has persuaded a group of dissenting parliament members and military officers to return to the capital, Kinshasa, to take up their places in the new transitional government.

The parliamentarians and army officers had refused to take their places in the new government, because, they said, they could not acknowledge the territorial integration of the newly united country. Government ministers accused them of fomenting a new rebellion.

Azarias Ruberwa, leader of the Rwandan backed RCD-Goma or Rally for Congolese Democracy movement, who is one of four vice presidents in President Joseph Kabila's new government, traveled to the eastern stronghold of Goma. There, he managed to persuade his dissenting members to drop their complaints and make the 1,500-kilometer journey back to the capital.

They are the last members of the government to take their place, and are expected to get to work as quickly as possible, since the preliminary sessions of parliament have been under way for a few weeks.

Senior RCD-Goma officials say the reconciliation shows there is no new rebellion being plotted. Many analysts point out that the governors of the two eastern provinces of the Kivus have their own private armies and are beyond the immediate control of the central government. Both are members of the RCD-Goma movement, which during the country's five-year civil war was backed by neighboring Rwanda.

Despite the spirit of reconciliation in Kinshasa, the situation near the Rwandan border remains volatile, with fighting continuing among Mai Mai tribal warriors, Burundian rebels, Rwandan ethnic Hutu extremists, and the remaining elements of RCD-Goma and Rwandan forces.