four vice presidents for the congo-----ho ho

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    By Mark Dummett
    BBC, Kinshasa

    A new round of peace negotiations for the Democratic Republic of Congo is beginning in South Africa, under the mediation of President Thabo Mbeki.

    Representatives of the Kinshasa government, of the rebel factions, political parties, Mai Mai militias and civil society have all, once again, travelled to Pretoria to continue the power sharing talks.

    They have been given until the weekend to draw up the terms for an inclusive, transitional government, but the Congolese negotiators have been given deadlines before - and have broken them all.

    These talks are only the latest stage in a several month long process, chaired by Mr Mbeki and Mustapha Niasse, representing the UN secretary general.

    So far the different sides have agreed to three important principles.

    Firstly that the transitional government will be followed in about two years time by democratic elections

    Secondly that Joseph Kabila will stay on as president

    Thirdly that there will be four vice presidents.

    The Kinshasa government, and the largest two rebel groups - the MLC and RCD-Goma will each have a vice president and the political opposition parties will have the fourth.


    Beyond that the disagreements begin.

    RCD-Goma, the MLC and several political parties believe that power must be divided along the same formula all the way through the government down to the street level.

    Kinshasa and other groups say this would lead to chaos.

    There are also disagreements on how to form a new national army, and on how to protect the rebel leaders when-or if, they come to Kinshasa.

    The main rebel groups say they should be able to bring their own troops into the capital - the government of course rejects the idea.

    The talking will not end soon.

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