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DRC Government Accuses Former Rebels of Fomenting Rebellion - 2003-09-25

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has accused a breakaway faction of the country's largest former rebel movement of fomenting a new rebellion. The announcement comes two months after a peace deal was struck ending almost five years of war.

The Congolese government's accusations came after a handful of legislators from the ex-rebel movement, the Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD-Goma) in the mineral-rich eastern stronghold of Goma, refused to come to the capital and issued a statement denouncing the peace process.

The legislators said the eastern territories should remain under the control of RCD, and called for the restructuring of the military. They also called for the resignation of one of the vice presidents nominated by President Joseph Kabila, for his involvement in inciting racial hatred against ethnic Tutsis.

Restoring peace in the Congo has been a turbulent process. RCD legislators are accusing tribal Mai-Mai warriors and government backed Hutu extremists of plotting to attack their strongholds. Human rights organizations say the governor of North Kivu maintains his own private militia and that Rwandan soldiers, who were to pull out a year ago, are still in Congo's east.

In Kinshasa, the minister of information accused the RCD legislators of fomenting a new rebellion, and charged Rwanda with extending political and military assistance to the renegade legislators.

Senior RCD-Goma members dismiss such accusations and say that those within its midst who oppose the peace process represent a small minority. The Rwandan government also flatly denies it is stirring up unrest in the Congo, despite its involvement in backing the RCD-Goma movement throughout Congo's five year war.

Independent observers in Kinshasa say, despite the hitches, the peace process in the Democratic Republic of Congo is still strong. But western diplomats also say the political split in the east of the country could re-ignite fighting in the country.