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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 August, 2003, 21:14 GMT 22:14 UK
New military command for DR Congo
President Joseph Kabila
The appointments remove another obstacle for Mr Kabila's government
Agreement has been reached on creating a post-war unified armed forces command in the Democratic Republic of Congo after months of talks.

According to a list released by President Joseph Kabila, former rebel commanders have been appointed to run the army and navy.

But the post of overall armed forces chief of staff is retained by Lieutenant General Liwanga Maata, who also served as navy chief of staff under President Kabila's late father Laurent.

The appointments are part of the military deal reached in late June, removing another obstacle that had been preventing the new government from functioning properly.

The new power-sharing army is to be led by General Sylvain Buki, who led the military wing of the Rwandan-backed rebel movement, the Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD).

The former commander of the Ugandan-backed militia, Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC), Amuli Bahigwa, is the new chief of the navy and John Numbi, a high-ranking general in the DRC army is to head the air force.

President Kabila has also named commanders for each of the country's 10 military regions.

Integrated

The factions and government have for weeks now been debating the issue of the military command following the signing of a peace agreement earlier this year.

Under the deal, the various armed groups will be integrated into a power-sharing army after receiving formal military training, while the under-18's will be sent back to their families and into education.

It is expected that the whole process of re-organising the army should be in place before general elections expected in two years' time.

However, correspondents say that continuing fighting in eastern Congo between the uncontrolled Mai Mai militia and the more structured RCD combatants could pose as threat to the military deal.

More than 50,000 people have been killed in the north-eastern region of Ituri and some 500,000 displaced since 1999.

A UN-mandated European Union force was deployed in June to reinforce the beleaguered Monuc contingent and secure Bunia, following vicious inter-ethnic clashes in the region that left hundreds dead in May alone.

Under UN Security Council Resolution 1484, the EU force is due to remain in Bunia until September 1, when they will hand over command to Monuc troops.


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