From the cracked concrete steps of an expropriated government building, Jules Simpeze Banga looked out at a mass of hundreds of freshly displaced people on Wednesday morning and delivered one of his first speeches as the new, rebel mayor of this town.
Most of the fighting has died down since the rebels declared a cease-fire last month after routing government troops in several strategic towns. On Wednesday, the rebels lived up to their word. They began pulling back troops from a few towns to allow aid workers better access to the hundreds of thousands of displaced people huddled in huts made out of banana leaves. The flimsy shelters are no match for the tropical rains that brew all morning and dump down every afternoon in sheets.