International Herald Tribune publiera mardi prochain,
le 1 février 4 pages sur la RDC sous le titre Democratic
Republic of the Congo: Toward transition. Ces quatre
pages contiennent beaucoup d'informations sur la situation économique
et social, ainsi que sur les perspectives pour les années
à venir en RDC. Nous publions içi l'interview du
président Joseph Kabila qui est repris dans ces quatre
par Jonathan Derrick, 30 janvier 2005
is the current situation in the DRC?
Joseph Kabila. The DRC is once again at a decisive turning
point in its history: on the threshold of legitimizing its institutions.
Several hostile currents are confronting each other in relation
to the issues lying ahead, which today are also dividing the Congolese
political class, according to whether people believe or not in
the re-founding of the Congolese nation, based on the holding
of free, democratic and transparent elections. Thus, there is
a part of the national ruling class that does not believe in the
elections at all and takes anything as a pretext to block progress.
It makes threats, walks out of institutions, takes backward steps.
It acts as the aggressor’s accomplice. In a word, it does
everything to start a crisis and spike the state apparatus.
On the other side, there is a calm political class that faces
the truth and places its confidence in the people and the institutions
of the republic. It
measures the difficulties, analyses them objectively, tries to
overcome them, taking account of reality on the ground. I am one
of this class. Today, I am convinced that our people are not fools.
They know how to discern clearly on which side their interests
s’est réveillé mardi 25 janvier avec la rumeur
que le Président de la République, le général-major
Joseph Kabila aurait été poignardé et que
sa vie serait en danger. Or à ce moment le Président
présidait une réunion de Conseil Supérieur
de la Défense. Cette réunion a d'ailleurs pris des
décisions qui ont contribuées au retrait de Kanyabayonga
par les mutins pro-rwandais et la mise en marche des mesures de
brassage des différentes unités appartenant aux
ancien belligérants au Nord-Kivu.
these circumstances, can elections be held in June 2005?
Joseph Kabila. On the organization of the elections,
the Global and Inclusive Accord is very clear. Whether at Sun
City or Pretoria, the political actors agreed on a time limit
in the Constitution. It is right to recall here that at Pretoria
the presidential camp called for a 12-month transition, devoted
exclusively to preparations for the elections. Other groups and
bodies called for a 36-month time limit. Certain people who today
fancy themselves as champions of early elections were then demanding,
in writing, a minimum time limit of 48 months. So a compromise
solution was adopted, in the form of a 24-month transition, with
a possible sixmonth extension, twice, for reasons linked to the
organizing of the elections.
And the Global and Inclusive Accord lays down that the initiative
for proposing such an extension lies with the Independent Electoral
Commission, but the final decision is a matter for the two houses
of Parliament, the National Assembly and the Senate. So there
should be no problem when the Chairman of that Commission, Father
Malu Malu, declares that practical material difficulties could
force that institution to extend the transition time frame by
three months, and that he proposes to submit this question for
examination by the two houses.
then, do you explain the explosion of popular anger that caused
the demonstrations in Kinshasa on January 10 to get out of hand,
following that announcement?
Joseph Kabila. That reaction arose from a misunderstanding
fueled by certain political forces that are not taking part in
the mutually agreed-upon management of the transition. Until recently,
they pretended to go along with the transition, but in reality
they have always sought to disrupt it through failure of the established
institutions and possible establishment of a new process in which
the instigators could have a privileged position. So they deliberately
create confusion in the people’s minds, suggesting that
a few months’ postponement meant purely and simply canceling
It was that message, which they conveyed among a certain section
of the population, that provoked the regrettable incidents of
Jan. 10, 2005, which, in addition, the majority of the population
of Kinshasa fails to understand.
your opinion, then, is it possible to hold elections during 2005?
Joseph Kabila. Personally, I remain convinced
that the general elections can be held during this year 2005,
and I shall take every step to see that this happens. My conviction
is based on the fact that the three essential conditions for the
holding of elections are in the process of being fulfilled. These
are: First, legal provisions: It should be noted that the National
Assembly has adopted the essential part of the laws for the holding
of elections, notably the nationality law, the law on defense
and the armed forces, and the electoral registration law. At this
point, there only remain the draft constitution and electoral
law, to which the law on a referendum can be added, and these
will be adopted in the first quarter of 2005.
Second, establishing security over the country. On this point,
too, it should be recalled that we have come a long way. Some
people often forget that scarcely 18 months ago, the country was
divided into self-governing territories, some of which were controlled
by rebel factions. The people could not move from one territory
to another and had difficulties even in moving around within the
same territory. Today, the whole of the nation’s territory
has been made completely peaceful and secure, and it only remains
to settle the problem of dissidence that has arisen in North Kivu,
backed by Rwanda. This problem, too, should be solved in the coming
weeks, with the help of the African Union and the backing of the
Third, availability of finance: Here, one should not forget that
the destruction of the economic fabric of our country, following
the predatory methods of earlier regimes and the armed hostilities
the country has experienced, has forced us to call on the solidarity
of the world community — which has already made commitments
amounting to two-thirds of the funding anticipated for the elections.
I am convinced that between now and June, the remainder can be
provided by other friendly countries and partners in international
organizations. Not forgetting, of course, the Congolese government’s
own contribution, which will be included in the 2005 Budget.
For all these reasons, I am optimistic and believe that it will
be possible for elections to be held during this year 2005.
is the government’s role, independently of Parliament, in
creating an environment conducive to holding elections?
Joseph Kabila. It should be noted that in other
countries, the material process of organizing elections has always
been the responsibility of the ordinary administration, while
the role of the Electoral Commission, where there is one, is limited
to supervising the elections. For the DRC, the political actors
who signed the Accord wanted to adopt a new approach, and entrusted
the Commission with all operations linked to the elections process,
whereas logically, it can only have limited numbers. One wonders,
therefore, how that Commission, with about 100 members, can be
deployed over a territory the size of a continent.
In my opinion, the CEI [Commission Electorale Indépendante]
will have to subcontract to enterprises specializing in election
operations, especially identification and registration of voters.
As for the government, beside its mission to ensure security for
operations linked to the elections, as I emphasized earlier, it
will have responsibility for strengthening the CEI and other services
which the CEI calls on, by placing its knowledge of the terrain
and its territorial organization at their disposal.
your speech on June 30, 2004, the anniversary of independence,
you drew attention to the disastrous situation of many of your
fellow citizens’ daily lives, not only in the areas of health
and education, but even regarding getting enough to eat. Under
the HIPC [Heavily Indebted Poor Countries] program, the DRC was
supposed to find $100 million to finance the social fund. Have
you raised that sum? If not, how do you expect to find the necessary
resources for that fund?
Joseph Kabila. Social questions are my main preoccupation.
Since the beginning of the program with the Bretton Woods institutions,
we have emphasized infrastructure. I take the example of the Matadi
road, which is the principal route for supply and access from
the river-sea port [Matadi] to Kinshasa, and which was recently
completely rebuilt with EU aid. Until very recently, it could
take several days to make the 350- kilometer [217 mile] journey
from Kinshasa to Matadi.
There is also restoration of hospitals and schools. Now the real
problem, in my opinion, is improving the social conditions of
civil servants, soldiers, policemen and others. The 2005 Budget
has been drawn up with a view to making a start with essential
solutions to these important problems. As for the HIPC program,
canceling the debt could enable the government to mobilize resources
to fund the social plan. I asked the Minister of the Budget, who
told me that we do not have even 10 percent of the amount. I also
asked the World Bank and the IMF, and they told me that they could
only do something concrete after effective completion of the HIPC
program. That is why we do not understand the attitude of certain
political groups, which have forgotten that fighting against corruption
is one of our commitments under the HIPC program.
If we were led to abandon or suspend that fight, the HIPC program
could not be completed, and the overall debt relief for our country
that our creditors have been considering would be abandoned. This
would greatly handicap our social program. Such an attitude is
irrational and irresponsible. I shall fight it with all my strength
for the interest of the people.
chances do you give the 1+4 formula with regard to current developments,
especially events in the East?
Joseph Kabila. Some people predicted failure
for the 1+4 formula. But I think one should not judge an action
without being aware of its objective. The 1+4 formula has its
merits: among others, it has ended five years of war; started
national reconciliation and the reunification and restoration
of peace over the country; made it possible to establish political
institutions for the country, accepted by all, as well as integration
of the army and police commands; and started the elections process
in a consensual way. Also, with the Global and Inclusive Accord,
the Congolese political actors resolved to abandon the militarist
option for taking power in favor of popular approval through the
So the 1+4 formula has accomplished its mission, to create a favorable
environment for holding free, transparent and democratic elections.
As for the situation in the East, definitely this remains a preoccupation.
Rwanda is a country that does not respect its commitments, nor
its pledged word. Since 2002, we have signed a number of agreements
with Rwanda, especially in Lusaka, Pretoria, Washington and, quite
recently, in Kigali and Dar es Salaam. Every time it has trampled
What are Rwanda’s real intentions within our country? Is
it a matter of the former FAR [Forces Armées
Rwandaises, i.e. the armed forces of the former Rwandan regime]
and the Interahamwe [the militia mainly responsible for the 1994
Rwanda genocide]? Rwanda occupied my country for five years,
from 1998 to 2003, one could say even until today. It did not
succeed in disarming those armed groups during all that period
of occupation. I think Rwanda’s real intention is to disrupt
the peace process in my country and prevent the holding of elections
within the time provided. I can even state that Rwanda never wanted
the return of those armed groups to their homes, so that it could
continue to justify incursions into our country and thus avoid
establishing a democratic process in Rwanda by sabotaging the
one in our country.
The DRC will not let this happen. That is why the government of
the Republic has decided to send more than 10,000 soldiers to
the East, with the objective of ensuring security for the people
and their property, opposing incursions by the Rwandan army and
the Interahamwe, and ensuring respect for the inviolability of
our frontiers and our national sovereignty.
by JONATHAN DERRICK