Deadline set for government candidate proposals

The parties to a recent power-sharing accord in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have until 7 May to submit their lists of candidates for the national transitional government, the follow-up committee of the inter-Congolese dialogue said on Tuesday.

The committee also announced that leaders of the various Congolese armed factions would meet in the DRC capital, Kinshasa, on Saturday.

The announcement was made during a meeting of the dialogue follow-up committee held on Tuesday. It was attended by all parties to the national peace and reconciliation accord - including leaders of the Rwandan-backed Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD-Goma) rebel group, who arrived in Kinshasa on Sunday for the first time since war erupted over four years ago.

"We have come to Kinshasa to put an end to the war, and we expect to resolve all outstanding matters, even the most complex, such as the formation of a united army," Azarias Ruberwa, secretary-general of RCD-Goma, told IRIN.

RCD-Goma was the only armed group to have signed on to a proposal in March by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special envoy to the DRC peace process, Moustapha Niasse, regarding the sharing of military responsibilities.

"It is entirely unacceptable that the command of the army, the only branch of the military of any real significance, be granted to RCD-Goma which would, at the same time, hold the minister of defence position of the transitional government," Kikaya Bin Karubi, the Kinshasa government spokesman, told IRIN.

Under that proposal, the ground forces of a future united DRC military would be led by representatives of RCD-Goma, while air forces would be led by the current Kinshasa government. The RCD-Kisangani/Mouvement de liberation (RCD-K/ML) would assume control of the naval forces, while the Ugandan-backed Mouvement de liberation du Congo (MLC) rebel group would be second-in-command to RCD-Goma over the nation's ground forces.

The dialogue follow-up committee is subdivided into the political and the logistical commissions. The political commission, headed by RCD-Goma's Ruberwa, is charged with handling unresolved issues such as the question of a united national army. The logistical commission, headed by Olivier Kamitatu, the MLC secretary-general, is responsible for putting in place transitional government institutions.

Meetings of the dialogue follow-up committee are held under the direction of President Joseph Kabila, whom all Congolese belligerents agreed could retain his post as head of state for a two-year transitional period.