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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

DRC: Bemba arrives in Kinshasa, Ruberwa en route

KINSHASA, 16 July 2003 (IRIN) - The leader of the Mouvement de liberation du Congo (MLC), Jean-Pierre Bemba, who is also one of four vice-presidents designate of the transitional government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), arrived on Tuesday in the capital, Kinshasa, in order to take his oath of office.

It was Bemba's first visit to Kinshasa since he left the city to form the MLC some four-and-a-half years ago. He will be sworn in on Thursday.

"We have turned the page on war," Bemba said at a news conference on Wednesday. "The five years that we have spent in rebellion has given us time to reflect on the ways of leading our country out of crisis."

Under a global peace accord, Bemba is to serve as one of four vice-presidents under President Joseph Kabila in a two-year transitional government leading to democratic national elections.

The other vice-president designates are Azarias Ruberwa of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD-Goma) movement; Kabila ally and former Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Yerodia Ndombasi; and Arthur Z'ahidi Ngoma of the unarmed political opposition.

Each grouping holds seven ministerial portfolios and four deputy ministries, with 26 of the 34 having already been sworn in on Tuesday.

"We have achieved a new political order in our country," Bemba said. "Our fight was not one for positioning or for personal gain, as can be attested by the fact that we put our lives at risk."

He said that adherence to an economic reform plan would be a key element to the country's recovery, and that stronger budgetary controls must be enacted to fight corruption.

"This economic plan must be focused on cleaning up the finances of the country, with transparency at all levels," he said.

He expressed support for the International Monetary Fund and World Bank programmes for the country, and asked the new government to adhere to these so as to encourage foreign investment.

Bemba also said that there would be no impunity during the transition. However, he expressed confidence in his defence against accusations of human rights violations, including those of cannibalism, forced cannibalism and rape. These crimes were reportedly committed by fighters under his command in northeastern DRC and in neighbouring Central African Republic.

Accompanied by nearly 100 of his own bodyguards, as well as security agents provided by the UN Mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, Bemba said that he was confident that coordination mechanisms being put in place would help avoid any confrontations between the security details of various belligerents.

Meanwhile, MONUC reported that Behrooz Sadry, a deputy special representative of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the DRC, had gone to the eastern town of Goma to escort Ruberwa to the capital on Wednesday afternoon. Sadry had flown to the northwestern town of Gbadolite on Tuesday to escort Bemba to Kinshasa.

"MONUC hopes that all measures will be taken to ensure that the vice-presidents take their oaths of office on Thursday 17 July, according to the calendar set by the follow-up committee [of the inter-Congolese dialogue]," the UN mission said on Wednesday.

It added that it had cancelled all of its regular flights in order to ensure that all members of the transitional government were able to reach Kinshasa.

Themes: (IRIN) Governance




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