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Government-Rebel Dispute Delays Congo Transitional Government - 2003-05-28


A new transitional government for the Democratic Republic of Congo was to be sworn in Thursday. But the ceremony has been postponed indefinitely. The delay stems from disagreements between the government and the country's most powerful rebel group, known as RCD (Rally for Congolese Democracy) - Goma.

The disagreement centers on the composition of the national army of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The RCD-Goma rebels claim that the government is unwilling to fulfill a promise it made to share power in the army. They say that an agreement was made between them and the government to allow RCD-Goma to take the defense ministry as well as control of the ground forces in the national army.

The rebels also claim they are the most important rebel group in the Congo and as such should have military control of more than one of the 10 regions in the country.

But the government seems reluctant to meet any of the rebel demands and more inclined to send them a message. On May 17, it held a military parade in the capital to celebrate Congo's liberation from the dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko. But instead of celebrating the country's liberation, the parade was widely perceived as a display of force meant to send a warning to rebel leaders.

Since then RCD-Goma have been accusing the government of flying in troops into its territory.

The main goal of the transitional government, if and when it is approved, is to guide the Democratic Republic of Congo to democratic elections in two years and bring an end to a four-year-old civil war that has claimed almost four million lives.

But the question of the power sharing of the army seems to have derailed what is called the peace train here.