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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Tuesday 24 August 2004

DRC: Ex-rebel group suspends participation in transitional government

KIGALI, 24 Aug 2004 (IRIN) - A former rebel group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has suspended its participation in the transitional government, in a move seen by many as a potential threat to the peace process there.

The leader of the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD-Goma), Azarias Ruberwa, who is also one of the DRC's four vice-presidents, made the announcement on Monday in the eastern DRC city of Goma, which is his party's stronghold

The peace process has broken down, Ruberwa said. "We in the RCD-Goma have decided to take a pause in the transitional activities. We need to revisit our agreement and iron out the loopholes," he said in reference to an April 2003 agreement in Sun City, South Africa, that paved the way for the transitional government.

"It is a regrettable move but this is what we need to do to stop the transition from dying," Ruberwa said. "The decision does not mean that war will break out again."

He added: "We do not want to fight, we want to go back to the negotiating table and concretise outstanding issues."

He said members of RCD-Goma in the parliament and senate would also pull out temporarily.

Ruberwa accused the one-year old transitional government of failing to establish proper guidelines for integrating former rebels into the new national army. The transitional government also includes two other former rebel movements, the former DRC government, unarmed opposition groups and civil society.

Ruberwa said the transitional government had "totally" failed in bringing security to civilians living in the two Kivu provinces and in the district of Ituri in Orientale Province.

Pointing to the recent massacre of 160 Banyamulenge (Congolese Tutsis) on 13 August in the Gatumba camp in Burundi, he said the incident had prompted renewed tensions with the DRC's eastern neighbours, Rwanda and Burundi. Ruberwa is also a Banyamulenge.

Many of the victims of the massacre had fled fighting in eastern DRC in June. Some leaders in the DRC government have been accused of supporting Hutu militia groups from Rwanda and Burundi, who have been implicated in the massacre.

War in the DRC officially ended in 2003 when a power-sharing agreement was brokered by South Africa.

[ENDS]



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