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Friday, 26 January, 2001, 13:43 GMT
Joseph Kabila sworn in
Joseph Kabila: In his father's shadow
Joseph Kabila: In his father's shadow
Joseph Kabila has been sworn in as president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, succeeding his father who was murdered last week.

During the ceremony before the Supreme Court in Kinshasa, Mr Kabila, speaking in French, swore that he would respect the laws of the country and guarantee the independence of the Congolese people.

I guarantee the independence, unity and cohesion of the Congolese people

Joseph Kabila

Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia all have troops stationed in Congo supporting the government.

Mr Kabila was due to address the nation for the first time later in the day, a government spokesman said.

The swearing in ceremony had been scheduled for Thursday but was postponed to allow more time to complete legal preparations for the succession, for which there is no provision under Congolese law.

Unanimous vote

The government announced a week ago that Joseph Kabila would succeed his father, Laurent, although it is not clear how much support he has in a country that has suffered years of civil war and instability.

Laurent Kabila
Laurent Kabila: Gunned down in his office
The Congolese parliament cleared the way for Mr Kabila's succession in a unanimous vote on Wednesday.

Our correspondent says the parliamentary vote was probably called in order to try to overcome constitutional and popular objections to Joseph Kabila taking over.

In a second motion passed by the parliament, Laurent Kabila was proclaimed a "national hero".

Peace hopes

Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel has ended a tour of countries involved in the war in Congo by declaring that they are all ready to consider peace.

Joseph Kabila
Shy 31-year-old soldier
Head of armed forces since 1997
Preferred languages: English, Swahili
Educated Tanzania, Uganda
Speaking in Uganda, which backs one of the rebel movements that control half of Congo, he said his Ugandan counterpart, Eriya Kategaya, was ready to take any initiative to press for a peaceful solution to the conflict.

He added that Angola and Zimbabwe - the Congolese government's two main backers - would also like to withdraw.

And he said earlier that Rwanda, which also backs the rebels, was no more an obstacle to peace than any other of the main players.

Mr Michel, whose country was the colonial power in Congo, embarked on his whirlwind peace drive after attending the funeral of Laurent Kabila.

Adversaries fighting in the Congo signed a peace accord in August 1999, but it has had little effect in practice, with both sides accusing each other of ceasefire violations.

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22 Jan 01 | Africa
Massacres in eastern Congo
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