Former Congolese rebel chief takes up government post

Former Congolese rebel chief and leader of the Conseil national des républicains (CNR), Frédéric Bintsamou - also known as Pasteur Ntoumi - has finally taken up a government post aimed at restoring stability in the southern Pool region over two years after his appointment.

Since September 2007 there had been a political deadlock, in part arising from a dispute between him and the government over the number of ex-combatants allowed to accompany him to Brazzaville for the swearing-in ceremony.

"It is true that there were biases at the start but we are not blaming anyone," Ntoumi said on 28 December during the ceremony, adding that joint CNR and government efforts had led to its success.

According to observers, Ntoumi's arrival in the capital, along with the process of demobilizing ex-combatants in the Pool region, should help improve peace in the region. A peace accord was signed in 2003.