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Commémoration du 35ème anniversaire de la mort de Pierre Mulele

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joseph Kabila : "Je suis optimiste"

The 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 pages.

Interview par Jonathan Derrick, 30 janvier 2005

What 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 lie.

 

Kinshasa 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.

 

In 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.

How, 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 the elections.
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.

In 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 world community.
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.

What 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.

In 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.

What 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 ballot box.
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 them underfoot.
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.

Interview by JONATHAN DERRICK