Tuesday, May 18, 1999 Published at 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK
Congo rebel leader 'ousted'
Congo's rebels have never been a cohesive movement
By Chris Simpson in Kigali
Congolese rebel leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba has reportedly been ousted from his position as the head of the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD).
Dr Wamba dia Wamba has accused his opponents of staging a coup against him, which could only weaken the rebels in their struggle to unseat President Laurent Kabila.
The rebels are ready to choose new leaders after dissolving the RCD leadership structures, according to reports from Goma, the rebel capital.
'New leaders needed'
They have identified Dr Wamba dia Wamba as being responsible for many of the rebellion's internal problems. They accuse him of ignoring the wishes of the RCD faithful and trying to move the rebellion's capital from Goma to the northern city of Kisingani.
In response, Dr Wamba dia Wamba says he is the victim of a campaign of intimidation and disinformation, arguing that the RCD will be seriously weakened by what he described as an internal coup.
The latest developments in Goma come as no great surprise.
Since its creation in August last year, the RCD has never looked like a coherent national movement.
The RCD has prided itself on being a broad coalition, united in its desire to remove President Kabila.
But different factions emerged during the first weeks of the rebellion and have been there ever since.
The in-fighting has been exacerbated by the conflicting agendas of the rebels' two main backers, Uganda and Rwanda.
Dr Wamba dia Wamba was recently accused of being a Ugandan protege.
The rebels and their allies have kept up the military pressure on Laurent Kabila with a series of territorial gains, but the president hit back last week with the first air strike on Goma.
The bombing of the rebel capital highlighted both the vulnerability of the RCD's defences and the rebellion's lack of civilian support. Sections of the local population are demanding immediate negotiations between the rebels, and the government in Kinshasa.