Two rebel leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been sworn in as vice presidents in a power-sharing government created to end nearly five years of war.
Azarias Ruberwa and Jean-Pierre Bemba are two among four vice presidents who took the oath of office Thursday, in a landmark ceremony held in the capital, Kinshasa. They will serve alongside Congolese President Joseph Kabila in a transitional administration that is to hold elections in about two years.
The other two vice presidents are opposition leader Arthur Z’Ahidi Ngoma and Abdoulaye Yerodia Ndombasi, a current government politician. Hopes are high that Thursday’s ceremony will mark the end of the conflict, once described as Africa’s World War. But installing the unity government has been delayed twice in the last two months as arguments continue over the make up of a newly integrated army.
The new administration is scheduled to meet for the first time on Saturday. Meanwhile, there are new allegations of fighting between ethnic factions in northeast Ituri province where a French-led emergency force is in place to help stabilize the region.
The Congolese war began in 1998, when Uganda and Rwanda invaded to back rebels seeking to overthrow the Kinshasa government. Angola, Namibia, and Zimbabwe sent troops to fight alongside the government. It is believed just over three million people have died, many of them civilians, from the war, disease and malnutrition.