UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
CONGO: Rebels await Govt response to coalition proposal
BRAZZAVILLE, 7 Oct 2005 (IRIN) - A rebel group in the Republic of Congo's troubled Pool region says it is waiting for a reaction to a proposal it sent the government on Wednesday to form a new government of national unity.
"We are still waiting to hear from them," Ane Philippe Bibi, a spokesman for the Conseil national de la résistance (CNR), known as the Ninja, told IRIN on Friday.
Bibi said a declaration was signed by their leader, the Reverend Frédéric Bitsangou, alias Pastor Ntoumi, and was sent to the office of Prime Minister Isidore Mvouba.
In the declaration, Bitsangou said if the government agreed to their demand, his rebels would hand in all weapons they had collected.
Bitsangou said the new political partnership would end the seven-year conflict. Together, the CNR and the government could collectively tackle "all issues of mutual concern", he said.
As an example, he said the 2002 legislative elections the government had been unable to hold in eight constituencies in the Pool for security reasons would be held.
On Sunday, the government held senatorial elections in five of the country's 11 departments, except the Pool.
Bitsangou said in the declaration that his group was outraged that the government held the elections rather than first seek a political solution to the conflict.
"We deplored the government's slowness and the lack of political will," he said.
The rebels and government have struck various agreements previously starting with a ceasefire in December 1999. It soon collapsed and was re-established in March 2003.
The two sides have also formed joint commissions, including one to oversee the disarming and reintegration of the rebel combatants.
Bitsangou said in June that his fighters had handed in many of their weapons although he declined to give a number.
On Wednesday, Bibi said the weapons would be destroyed once a political compromise was reached with the government.
"How can we reintegrate ex-combatants without thinking about reintegrating their leaders?" Bibi said.
"In Sudan, [former rebel leader] John Garang was given a position in the government after a political agreement was signed; in Cote d’Ivoire, rebels were reintegrated into the government after the Marcoussis Agreement was signed and rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo were brought into the government after Sun City [South Africa] agreements was signed," Bibi said.
"Why should the ROC follow a different rule?" he said.
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