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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 2 April, 2003, 16:24 GMT 17:24 UK
DR Congo peace deal signed
Congolese Foreign Minister Leonard She Okitundu signing the deal
Foreign Minister Leonard She Okitundu signed for President Kabila
Representatives of the government and rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo have signed a deal intended to end almost five years of war.

However President Joseph Kabila and MLC rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba did not personally sign the two page document.

The deal includes a new constitution and a power-sharing administration which is supposed to oversee DR Congo's first democratic elections since 1960 in two years' time.

But there are still questions over integrating the different factions into a new army, while rebel leaders are unsure about their security in the capital, Kinshasa.

The signing was witnessed by the leaders of South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Brothers and sisters, let us stop destroying our country
Cardinal Frederic Esthou

South African President Thabo Mbeki welcomed the deal but also sounded a word of caution.

"You know better than I do that the implementation of historic agreements you have entered into will not be easy," he said.

"You problems will originate both from within the (DR) Congo and from elsewhere, outside your borders. To overcome them will require a single-minded commitment to serve."

Too many guns

"Brothers and sisters, let us stop destroying our country - the Democratic Republic of Congo," said Cardinal Frederic Esthou, who blessed the signing ceremony and the interim government.

The signing endorsed an agreement last December and a new constitution reached last month.

Under the deal, President Kabila keeps his post, while rebels and the civilian opposition get vice-presidential posts in a two-year transitional authority.

Congolese Foreign Minister Leonard She Okitundu signing the deal
Four years
Seven foreign armies
At least 2 million dead
Disease and abuses widespread

More than two million people are believed to have died as a result of the war which began in 1998, and at one stage dragged in half a dozen foreign armies.

DR Congo, Rwanda and Uganda also signed a deal to end the war last year but recently Rwanda has threatened to send its troops back onto Congolese territory unless Uganda also withdraws.

Uganda has been involved in recent fighting around the north-eastern town of Bunia, which remains tense.

The BBC's Mark Dummett in Bunia says that despite recent peace moves, worries remain because too many people still have guns and ethnic hatreds are not going away.

The BBC's Mark Dummett in Bunia
"Ngaya is just one of the many victims of the fighting in Ituri"

George Ola Davies on BBC Network Africa
"Everything is set"

Uganda-Rwanda tension mounts
17 Mar 03  |  Africa
Clash overshadows Congo deal
07 Mar 03  |  Africa
DR Congo awash with rebels
23 Jul 02  |  Africa
DR Congo's road to peace
21 Oct 02  |  Africa

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