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KINSHASA, 17 Dec 2002 (IRIN) - Warring parties in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo signed an all-inclusive power-sharing deal on Tuesday
to establish a government of national unity and hopefully end four years of war,
news organisations reported.
Under the agreement, reached after months of stop-start negotiations known
as the inter-Congolese dialogue (ICD), President Joseph Kabila will remain in
office for the next two years until the country's first elections since
independence from Belgium in 1960 are held. He will be assisted by four vice-
presidents, respectively representing the government, the Rassemblement
congolais pour la democratie-Goma, the Mouvement de liberation du Congo
(MLC) and the unarmed political opposition.
There will be 36 ministers and 25 deputy ministers, a 500-member National
Assembly and a 120-member Senate.
The accord provides for a Higher Defence Council (Conseil superieur de la
defense) to be chaired by the president of the republic. An integrated national
police force will provide security.
AFP reported that the accord permits ministers from the various groups to
have their own bodyguards, but "abandons a proposal that 2,000 South
African troops assure their security". The MLC was awarded the presidency
of the National Assembly, having maintained that it needed the position to
ensure a fair balance of power, AFP added.
Representatives of the government, rebel movements, militias, opposition
parties and civil society all signed the accord - their first all-inclusive deal.
South African President Thabo Mbeki nursed them through the negotiations,
which began on Sunday, the Mail & Guardian online reported. The ICD first
began on 15 October 2001 in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. [For more
on accord see Mail & Guardian]
With the accord signed, Mustapha Niasse, the UN secretary-general's special
envoy in the DRC, said the "next step" would be for Ketumile Masire, the
facilitator of the ICD, to take charge of the next stage of the ICD.
The commissioner-general of the DRC government in charge of the peace
process in the Great Lakes region, Vital Kamerhe, said the accord marked the
"reunification of the country".
To this, the government spokesman, Kikaya Bin Karubi, added: "We, the
government, are happy with the accord, because we are one of the signatories.
We have, for our part, decided to apply it. It will require others to come here,
to the capital [Kinshasa]. We know there are certain points which have
remained in abeyance, but we are content that the essential has been done."