congo peace deal signed

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    Tuesday, 17 December, 2002, 05:37 GMT
    Congo peace deal signed


    Rebel forces get key posts in the new government



    By Mark Dummett
    BBC correspondent in Kinshasa



    The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and its key rebel opponents have signed a power-sharing agreement in Pretoria, South Africa, to end more than four years of war.


    Kabila: Remains head of state
    Representatives of the country's main political parties and civil society groups also signed the deal that leaves Joseph Kabila as president, divides up ministerial portfolios and commits all sides to holding democratic elections in two year's time.

    Congo's many warring political parties have been in negotiations for almost a year and a half to draw up this power-sharing agreement.

    Finally, after a frantic last round of talks, they have put pen to paper and signed a complicated and ambitious plan that many people - including privately, some of the negotiators - believe is unworkable.

    Little faith

    Under the terms of the deal, President Joseph Kabila remains the country's head of state, while his current government, the two main rebel forces and the political opposition, each receive one vice-presidency and seven ministerial posts.


    War has left DR Congo's people impoverished

    Two smaller rebel factions and representatives of civil society also get key posts in the transitional government which is set to last two years, until Congo's first democratic elections since 1960 are held.

    If the deal is implemented, it will go a long way towards ending Congo's ruinous war, that has divided the country into countless rival blocks and impoverished its people.

    However, faith in the country's leaders is at an all-time low, and most Congolese will be waiting to see how and when the deal is put into practice before celebrating.
 
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