EDITORIAL: Two simultaneous meetings.
- FINAL PREPARATIONS BEFORE THE NATIONAL CONSULTATIONS
- THE OPPOSITION SHOWS NO INTEREST IN THE CONSULTATIONS
- A SCATTERED AND CRACKED OPPOSITION
- OPENING OF THE NATIONAL CONSULTATIONS
- The opening speech by President Joseph Kabila
- Some reactions
- THE PRELIMINARY WORK OF THE CONSULTATIONS
EDITORIAL: TWO SIMULTANEOUS MEETINGS
The National Consultations in Kinshasa and the negotiations in Kampala between the Congolese government and the March 23 Movement (M23), an armed group supported by Rwanda, are being held at (almost) the same time, in a time frame not exceeding two weeks.
In the case of different decisions…
It should be noted that both meetings will take decisions independently of one another as the participants and the agenda are different, but they will have the same scope, namely the end of the war in the East of the country and the return of peace. Therefore the decisions taken independently by the two bodies pose a serious problem. This is due to the coordination of the decisions applicable to the problems facing both the National Consultations and the Kampala negotiations. But who can dare to say right now that the National Consultations in Kinshasa and the Kampala negotiations will end with the same decision? What would happen in the event of a contradiction (always possible) between the conclusions of the National Consultations and the negotiations in Kampala? The answer to this troubling question is expected to come from the delegates at the two meetings.
…what procedures will be taken?
It is necessary to avoid at all costs a scenario in which, should there be any discrepancy, the decisions made in Kampala lack precedence over those made in Kinshasa. It would therefore be desirable that the work in Kampala finishes before the work in Kinshasa. In this perspective, an agreement between the government’s delegation and the M23’s delegation in Kampala should, before being signed, be sent to Kinshasa to be taken into consideration, examined, amended and approved by the participants of the National Consultations, then ratified by parliament and the government. It is only then that the agreement can be signed in Kampala by the two parties involved in the negotiations: the delegation of the Congolese government and that of the M23.
When approved by the participants of the National Consultations, the agreement would also become an expression of the people’s will, with which the M23 must comply. It is the game of democracy which has its own demands.
1. FINAL PREPARATIONS BEFORE THE NATIONAL CONSULTATIONS
On 20th August, a group of professors from the University of Kinshasa, meeting within the APUKIN (the Association of Professors of the University of Kinshasa), declared to the press that “the National Consultations can in no case be a place for sharing power”. They protest against any political manoeuvre to make this meeting an opportunity to think about individual interests. This does not fit with the expectations of the Congolese people who expect one thing: to escape the poverty in which they have been crushed for many years. War in the East, organisation of public administration, the reform of the army, unemployment… These are the points of concern for these professors who think that the Republic is turning a corner.
On 21st August, the contact group finished its preparatory work for the National Consultations. The participation quota of groups invited to the national dialogue is finally known, at least unofficially: 151 places are reserved for national and provincial institutions, 140 for political parties of the Majority, 100 for political parties of the parliamentary and extra parliamentary opposition, 31 for historic individuals, 50 for experts, 29 for traditional chieftains, 20 for those invited by the Head of State, 20 for armed groups, 42 for contact groups who are visible participants of Office, and finally 3 places for those invited by the Presidium, giving a total of 686 participants.
On 27th August, Aubin Minaku and Léon Kengo wa Dondo, members of the Presidency committee, announced that the National Consultations will begin on the 4th September. The two personalities signed the rules of this forum elsewhere in front of members of the Preparatory Committee. The main absentees have already been announced at this conference: the UDPS (the Union for Democracy and Social Progress) led by Etienne Tshisekedi, the UDPS Parliamentary group and partners, the UNC (Union of the Congolese Nation) Parliamentary group led by Vital Kamerhe and partners, the FAC (Forces of Change) led by Martin Fayulu, and the CDR led by Jean Lucien Bussa.
On 2nd September, it was learned from sources close to the Presidium that the National Consultations will no longer be held on 4th September. The new date is 7th September. The first reason for the postponement is that on 5th September, the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region is to be held in Kampala, in which President Joseph Kabila will take part with the Defence Minister, Alexander Luba Ntambo, and Foreign Affairs Minister, Raymond Tchibanda. However, there are clear signs that a lack of preparation and poor organisation of these National Consultations are also among the reasons for the delay. Up to 48 hours before the opening of the Forum, we still do not know the configuration of the seats, the number of participants, the subjects to be discussed, or the logistic resources available to the participants. Furthermore, in this cacophony which is indicative of the Congolese political class, every political camp and every participant has a hidden agenda. Some come to these consultations to make a new political career by occupying new positions in different institutions of the Republic. The others will come to collect their per diem which puts many people in this forum. Finally, the third category, however minor, is the Congolese who are conscious and concerned about the progress of the country and whose presence in this forum is dictated solely by the concern to serve the country and contribute to national cohesion. The other cause of the delay of the National Consultations would be the absence of the major opposition political parties, notably the UDPS, UNC and MLC, from this forum. In addition, two camps have been created at the heart of political parties such as the UDPS and the MLC. The first camp is made up of supporters of participation in political consultations, and the second camp is composed of hardliners who support the empty-chair policy.
2. THE OPPOSITION SHOWS NO INTEREST IN THE CONSULTATIONS
On 27th August, The spokesman for the Union of the Congolese Nation (UNC), Jean Baudouin Mayo Mambeke, explained why his party would not be participating in the National Consultations. First he pointed out that, after the poorly organised elections of November 2011 and the non-credible results that followed, the UNC and other opposition forces as well as the civil society had called for the holding of a national political dialogue to resolve the issue of illegitimacy which was created after the election. Therefore, UNC still requires a political dialogue that respects the Constitution of the Republic and the country’s laws. According to him, the President of the Republic should reconsider his order in the context of the agreements in Addis Abeba that require them to organise Congolese reconciliation and the 2098 resolution which indicated the method of a “transparent and inclusive political dialogue among all Congolese stakeholders” under the good offices of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in the DRC, in collaboration with the UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region. According to Jean Baudouin Mayo it was not right to confirm whether the conditions posed by the Opposition had been accepted. There has been no release of political prisoners or prisoners of conscience, no amnesty, opening of opposition medias, equal representation of all groups, modification of the Presidential Order, or guarantee by the Head of State that the Constitution of the Republic will be respected both in its spirit and its text, notably concerning the end of the mandate in 2016. For all these reasons and many others, UNC believes that the conditions of participation have not been met.
On the subject of a possible national unity government issued by a new majority (current majority, opposition and civil society), Baudouin Mayo said that the problem of the Congo is not primarily that of the Government. There is one. National cohesion does not necessarily require a national unity government. Such a government would obey an unconstitutional scheme, the purpose of which is to extend the mandate of the President of the Republic, with or without amendment of the Constitution. It must be known that this is the counterpart of the national unity government. And so the UNC cannot accommodate such a scheme. It is unacceptable. It is time to learn how to get the power to the sovereign people, through the ballot box that may allow a change in power. The UNC is therefore waiting for 2016. For that, we are prepared for anything. The mandate of President Kabila will end 19th December 2016. And on 20th December of this year, we will have a new President. We will thank President Kabila for his work. He will live in peace in this country as Senator for life with its immunities of former President.
According to Baudouin Mayo, the dialogue has two real objectives: the evaluation of the November 2011 elections and corrections to be made, as well as the war in the East. The rest is a consequence of these issues. In relation to the first question, we must make a firm commitment to fair and transparent elections with fair dispute mechanisms, while for the second concern, we must, after analysing the causes of recurrent war, find solutions, without the need for any reward for war criminals. Fair and equitable justice must be our ally.
On 28th August, UDEMO (Union of Mobutuist Democrats), PUNA (National Unity Party) and CRP (Convention for Revival and Progress), 3 party members of parliamentary group MLC and Allies have confirmed they have rejected the National Consultations. They pose, as a prerequisite for participation in this forum, that: it be held under the auspices of the United Nations and the facilitation of President Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo / Brazzaville, the name be changed (national and non-national Dialogue Consultations), there be equal representation of provincial “groups”(presidential Majority, Opposition, Civil Society), and that the 30% quota for women be respected. However, these parties stress that they remain full members of the MLC Parliamentary Group and Allies in the National Assembly.
On 31st August, the parliamentary opposition groups at the National Assembly
(UDPS, UNC, MLC and their Allies) reaffirmed their boycott of the National Consultations in a political statement. According to that political statement, made at the Palais du Peuple by the President of the parliamentary group UDPS and its Allies Samy Badibanga, “President Joseph Kabila is expected to release a new ordinance supplementing and amending that of 26th June and establishing a political dialogue in line with the spirit of the framework agreement in Addis Ababa and the 2098 resolution of the Security Council of the UN”. According to the statement, “The prescriptions in Article 5 of the 2098 resolution ask the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the DRC in collaboration with the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region, to support, coordinate and evaluate the application in the DRC, national commitments in the agreement in Addis Ababa and recalled in its Annex B. Concerning national reconciliation, if there is any political divide in the country, it was following the chaotic presidential and parliamentary elections in 2011, in which one of the major players was the President Etienne Tshisekedi. National cohesion is, therefore, not possible without easing of political tensions or inclusiveness. Regarding the security crisis in eastern Congo, beyond external interference, it raises the issue of the reform of the army, organisation and operation of the security services, both civil and military – topics which are not, however, among the chosen themes. But it turns out that no armed groups are invited. Furthermore, the signatories of the declaration reject any excuse to use the National Consultations to amend the Constitution of the Republic and condemn the desire to establish a national unity government or otherwise transition to the spirit and letter the Constitution. Based on these factors, the opposition parliamentary groups and political parties represented in the National Assembly have taken up the option to not participate in the national dialogue as organised and convened to date.”
On 1st September, the Congolese Rally for Democracy / Kisangani Liberation Movement (RCD / KML) led by Mbusa Nyamwisi, former presidential candidate in 2011, rejected the National Consultations in the way they are currently organised, estimating that they will not guarantee inclusiveness nor reconciliation and national cohesion. The RDC / KML accuses the majority of wanting to “legitimise themselves” through these consultations and requires a reframing of this forum by the international community. According to the party, “the unbalanced distribution of participants for the Presidential Majority, which aligns at least 75 percent of participants, sanctions the idea of a real Congress of the presidential majority” and the powers that be are not concerned about “international facilitation as intended by the framework agreement in Addis Ababa and resolution 2098” of the Security Council of the UN.
In summary, the opposition parties complain that the convening of this national dialogue deviates from the spirit and the letter of the Addis Ababa Agreement (24 February 2011) and Resolution 2098 of the United Nations Security Council. For them, national reconciliation inevitably involves the resolution of the crisis of legitimacy originating from the disputed elections of 28 November 2011. They therefore require a true dialogue under the auspices of the international community, which would involve the National President of the UDPS, Etienne Tshisekedi, one of the main players in the current crisis, and armed groups at the base of the recurrent insecurity in the east. They want national dialogue to be the place where one can discuss the legitimacy of institutions, the formation of a republican and modern army, looting and selling of natural resources, corruption, massive violations of Human Rights and the recruitment of child soldiers. Among the other requests are: the challenge of the President of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Abbot Apollinaire Malu-Malu, considered close to Mr Kabila and suspected of trying to amend Article 220 of the Constitution to allow the President run for a third five-year term.
3. A SCATTERED AND CRACKED OPPOSITION
On 1st September, contrary to the majority of the opposition parties, the Secretary General of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) Thomas Luhaka declared that his party will participate in the National Consultations.
On 3rd September, a delegation of seven members of the UDPS, led by Serge Mayamba, met Léon Kengo Wa Dondo, Senate President and Co-Chairman of the Presidium of National Consultations, in order to obtain reliable information about the organisation of the political forum, because their party did not take part in the preparatory work of the contact group. For them, this information is necessary and crucial to enable them to make a final decision about their participation in this conference. According to the members of the delegation, every statement made in the sense of asserting the non-participation of this flagship party of the Opposition is only unique as it would commit its author, especially as, during an internal vote, the majority voted for the active participation in this national forum, regretting that one of theirs initiated this group without consulting voters. The delegation submitted a list of 20 members of the UDPS who want to participate in consultations to the office of Kengo Wa Dondo, stating that there will be others.
As we approach the opening of the “National Consultations”, the Congolese political opposition is still unable to agree whether or not to participate in the annual conference and seems to be more scattered and cracked than ever. After some hesitation, some parties have decided to participate while others still advocate a boycott. This creates internal divisions in their political party. At the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), for example, the slogan comes down to boycott institutions from the controversial 2011 elections. “It is not a matter for us to participate in a forum that is nothing but a mass to legitimise Joseph Kabila” ranted counsellor Etienne Tshisekedi, who refuses to take part in the institutional life of the country. But UDPS has deputies in the Chamber against their political party’s way of thinking. And twenty of them, that is to say, two-thirds of the group, announced their intention on 3rd September to participate in the National Consultations. This is a “sham”, said Samy Badibanga, the chairman of the parliamentary group UDPS / Allies, who judges it to be counter-productive, and non-compliant with UN recommendations, noting that the option they had chosen was “to not participate.”
The same confusion is seen on the side of Forces of Change (FAC). The political consolidation of the opposition is split between the side of Lisanga Bonganga, who took part in the preparatory work of the National Consultations, and the side of the rather hostile Martin Fayulu. More flexible is the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), political party of Jean-Pierre Bemba, which will be present. “For us, these consultations will provide a framework where everyone can come and speak on the situation in the country,” said Thomas Luhaka, the Secretary General of the party. The MLC said they have demanded and obtained the expansion of the agenda to include issues of governance and the reformation of the army, police and security services. Another guarantee given is the establishment of a mechanism for facilitation. “In case of a breakdown in discussions, Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of Congo – Brazzaville, will be called on to help. And to circumvent the overrepresentation of the ruling majority at this meeting, we successfully demanded that all decisions are made by consensus,” said Thomas Luhaka. In addition, “we do not consider that it will be a question of putting a new political order into place: Joseph Kabila was elected for five years, we have to let him finish his last term,” said Thomas Luhaka. And to clarify: “In all cases, the forum has no jurisdiction to review the Constitution.”
This is not enough to reassure Vital Kamerhe. The leader of the Union of the Congolese Nation (UNC) is criticising President Joseph Kabila for violating the spirit of international texts that have called for this national forum. “Resolution 2098 of the Security Council has scheduled an inclusive dialogue through the good offices of the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the UN [Martin Kobler, ed] and his Special Envoy for the Great Lakes [Mary Robinson, ed]” he insists, questioning the direction of the “National Consultations” entrusted to Minalu Aubin and Leon Kengo wa Dondo, presidents of both chambers of the Congolese Parliament.
On 6th September, the FAC-Opposition decided to take part in the National Consultations. Jean Pierre Lisanga Bonganga also reported that this decision is to ensure a peaceful political climate. Lisanga recalled that in addition to the almost permanent security crisis in the East of the DR Congo during the past twenty years, the chaotic organisation of the November 2011 elections brought the country into a crisis of the legitimacy of institutions. Faced with this situation, the FAC-opposition say that they support the organisation and the running of the National Consultations as a suitable way out of crisis.
Finally, the deputies from the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) also decided to take part in consultations, but their former party recalls that most were written off. “Anyone who claims that the UDPS participate in this dialogue is guilty of moral fraud”, the RFI (Radio France International) Chief of Staff was told by Etienne Tshisekedi, who regrets, among others, that the question of the legitimacy of institutions is not among the topics discussed. It should be noted that the Union of the Congolese Nation (UNC), led by Kamerhe, also refuses to participate in consultations, considering them “a joke which is only intended to extend the mandate of President Kabila.”
On 6th September, at the headquarters of his party and in the presence of some staff and activists, the Secretary General of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), Thomas Luhaka, read a message from President Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo addressed to delegates of the party at the National Consultations. According to this message, “the National Consultations are an opportunity for the MLC to tell leaders of public institutions the truth to their face.” According to Jean-Pierre Bemba, it is necessary to tell the powers that be that, under the security plan, all their policies for reformation of the army and security services have failed. Senior Officers, he adds, should stop the practice of sales of weapons and ammunition, which weakens the effectiveness of combat troops. He has advised that the authors of these practices should be prosecuted and punished severely. In terms of governance, the leader of the MLC called for an end to the illicit and causeless enrichment by courageously banning the chronic impunity that characterises it. For him, it is necessary to set mechanisms to stop injustices in the distribution of national wealth; courageously stopping corruption and the haemorrhage of state finances. On the subject of the electoral process, it is imperative to consolidate the electoral cycle, because the inability of the present rulers to complete the process in 2006 and 2011 constitutes a serious problem of destabilising the mandates, and ultimately the legitimacy, of institutions that have lost popular charm. In the same vein, Bemba asked the representatives of MLC to speak in favour of the clean-up of the electoral register, the public accessibility and the usability of the mapping of polling to ensure credibility and transparency in the coming elections. Finally, according to Bemba, it is unacceptable that so far the Constitutional Court in charge of electoral disputes has not been established, while the organic law on the organisation and operation was approved by the Parliament a long time ago.
On 6th September, the organisations of civil society presented their specifications in the context of National Consultations. “Against the backdrop of five themes proposed by the Presidential Order, we have identified the major challenges at the base of the National lack of cohesion and propose possible solutions to be endorsed by participants in the National Consultations,” said Longendja, the delegate of CODHOD.
In favour of strict compliance with the electoral cycle, they urged the national institutions to effectively organise the provincial, local, municipal and urban elections. “We call on the INEC to open participation in elections to the Congolese living abroad, to initiate an audit of the electoral register and its publication on the website of the CENI website…” indicated Longendja, the circumstantial spokesman.
In terms of good governance, civil society encouraged the continuation of the reform process in strategic sectors such as mining, forestry and hydrocarbons, etc… All participants in the discussions are strongly recommended to exclude from the debate, any questions which aim to question the sanctity of Article 220 of the Constitution.
The government are asked to develop a realistic timetable and short-term voluntary (if not, forced) repatriation of foreign armed groups in partnership with official agencies and neighbouring countries (Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi). Another request is the acceleration of the reform process of the national army, in particular by establishing a committee to monitor the reform of the Army (CSRA). According to the Civil Society, the DDRR process should also be evaluated, revived and revamped, paying special attention to issues related to economic and social aspects of the demobilised.
4. OPENING OF THE NATIONAL CONSULTATIONS
a. The opening speech by President Joseph Kabila
On 7th September, the Head of State, Joseph Kabila, opened the work of National Consultations at the People’s Palace in Kinshasa. He began his opening speech by stating that “in the history of states and peoples, there are singular moments, beyond all divisions, which test the strength of the collective will to live, challenge consciences and require the mobilisation of energy and intelligence… It is the threat that for several years, has weighed on the very existence of our country as a desired single and indivisible nation, and as a sovereign state in intangible borders inherited from colonisation. We must all feel challenged by this threat and mobilise, as one person, to deal with it, even if it means betraying the memory of the martyrs of our independence and of all those who, from generation to generation, have given their lives to forever keep the flame of freedom.” The Head of State said that “these National Consultations take place while our country is once again attacked by those who seek to destabilise it by any means. The war, whose current main theatre is Rutshuru and Nyragongo, is, in fact, looking to create the objective conditions for the dismemberment of the great Congo. Be aware that the true nature and stakes of this war is a condition of victory.”
He then said that “the objective of these foundations is to identify ways and means to restore and consolidate the internal cohesion to ensure victory against the forces of aggression, to strengthen the authority of the State throughout the national territory, to end the vicious cycle of repeated violence, primarily in North and South Kivu and in Ituri, to ward off any attempt to associate with external attempts to destabilise the country, and plan together its socio-economic development in peace and harmony.”
On the subject of the security and humanitarian situation in the province of North Kivu, he recalled the last Summit of Heads of State of the ICGLR in Kampala, noting that on this occasion “an order was given to the negative forces to stop all military activities and war and their threats to destabilise the DR Congo. Every effort will be made so that the meetings in Kampala result in the restoration of peace and the authority of the State throughout the national territory, otherwise our Armed Forces will assume this duty”.
By making a tribute to the bravery of the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC) and the security forces, the President of the Republic expressed his sympathy and his solidarity with the wounded people of Kivu – victims of the unjust war imposed on the DRC. “I reiterate my willingness to give them security and to end their suffering,” he said, inviting the audience to observe a moment of silence for the victims of this war.
The Head of State calls his approach that of a “citizen and not a politician.” According to him, the National Consultations are “a peaceful, transparent framework with no hidden agenda, a framework of objective thinking outside the hustle and bustle and all political profiteering, an eloquent demonstration of our ability to discuss and decide freely without external interference and done in accordance with the constitution, laws and institutions of the Republic.”
Recalling the Order convening this meeting, he discussed different themes or topics retained in the program with regards to the priorities of the moment. It is, he said, the reform of institutions, economics, community conflicts, peace and national reconstruction, decentralisation and strengthening of local entities. About the conduct of work itself, the Head of State said that the right of the participants of the National Consultations to “immunity of speech, of course subject to respect for the law, and to the public order as enshrined in the constitution” was recognised. However, he stressed that “the participants in National Consultations are not intended to replace the primary sovereign, much less to challenge decisions that fall within the exclusive authority of the latter,” and he insisted that ” through calm and responsible thinking, they have the opportunity to help design the necessary reforms to better ensure the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the State, to ensure the safety of persons and property, deepen and consolidate democracy, improve the political and social governance, and increase sustainable and socially beneficial economic growth for our people.”
Referring to opponents who boycotted the work, the Congolese president also “invited those who are still hesitating to come and participate in this forum and give their contribution.”
Referring to the security situation in the eastern DRC, Joseph Kabila praised the efforts of the international community (SADC, CILGR, the African Union, Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the UN, Mary Robinson, his Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Martin Kobler, the Special Representative in the DRC, members of the Security Council of the UN and the EU) to find a solution in this region where the Congolese military and M23 rebels have confronted each other since May 2012.
Joseph Kabila announced, without further details, that “in favour of holding these National Consultations and to allow easing of tensions, the conditional release of some prisoners will be taken.” He also announced, without specifying the recipients, that a presidential pardon is in study pending the vote by Parliament of an amnesty law.
b. Some reactions
Among the knee-jerk reactions recorded after the keynote speech delivered by the Head of State, Joseph Kabila, on the occasion of the opening of the National Consultations, some specifically asked why the Head of State did not encourage participants to address certain issues, even when they became angry. These include the constitutional revision which divided opinion, the question of legitimacy in relation to the 2011 elections, and the formation of a national unity government announced with fanfare by a member of the Presidium. By including these topics in the debate, the shape of the debate would be more complete.
The governor of North Kivu, Julien Paluku Kahongya, urged participants of the National Consultations to take over the suffering of the population of North Kivu. “I think once all the Congolese people have to take ownership of what we go through in the East, it’ll be the beginning of the end of the crisis that has long rocked the DRC,” said the governor of North Kivu, welcoming the idea of the Head of State who called the Congolese to unite to deal with those who threaten peace and security in the East.
On 8th September, in a statement read by their moderator Lisanga Bonganga, Forces of Change (FAC / Opposition) said that “this speech is not up to the political issues in the context of crises plaguing our country”. According to the declaration, “No mention was made by President Kabila on the fate of Senate, Assemblies and Provincial Executive institutions whose mandates are largely outdated, and that of the small Territorial Army whose management remains until now only the privilege of his political family which replaces the primary sovereign”.
Respect of the primary sovereign should be scrupulously observed by President Kabila and his political movement which unfortunately was used to impose a President of the Republic and national MPs elected after evil chaotic elections of November 2011 on a Congolese sovereign people. Ultimately, it is Mr Kabila and his political movement who replace primary sovereign and not the FCC / Opposition or the entire Congolese opposition who come to this Dialogue / Consultations precisely to defend the will of the primary sovereign. Finally, Fac / Opposition reiterate that the “Dialogue / National Consultations provide an appropriate framework for political negotiations between all the forces of the nation and not an advisory board, let alone a sounding board for institutions that suffer from a decay of legitimacy”.
On 9th September, Jean-Claude Vuemba, President of the Movement of the Congolese people for the Republic (MPCR), stated during a press conference at his party’s headquarters in Kinshasa that “the only solution to the political crisis in DRC is through a direct head-to-head between Joseph Kabila and Etienne Tshisekedi and a presidential pardon to all political prisoners.” The MPCR believes “there has been a major political crisis between Mr Kabila and Mr Tshisekedi” since the election on 28th November 2011, which sanctioned the re-election of President Joseph Kabila.
Jean-Claude Mvuemba stressed the need for a meeting between these two figures:
“They [Tshisekedi and Kabila] must find a common ground for the country to move forward. I think this is the only solution in relation to the social and political crisis in the country.”
He also called for a presidential pardon to be granted to political prisoners, to strengthen national cohesion. According to him, the DRC should not only rely on the support of MONUSCO, but it should train its army. “What we have been asking for a long time, is that a true republican army may be formed in the Congo. To date, we still do not have it,” he said. Mvuemba MP has also called for a diplomatic rupture between Kinshasa and Kigali, accused of supporting M23 rebels who have been fighting since May 2012 against the FARDC in North Kivu.
5. THE PRELIMINARY WORK OF THE CONSULATIONS
On 8th September, the Presidium announced that the plenary of the national consultations, originally scheduled for that day, was postponed to Monday 9th September. According to the Presidium, the plenary was to be devoted to the presentation of the rules. But the issue of validation for lists of delegates, including those of civil society, meant that this meeting was not allowed to be held.
On 9th September, the participants gathered for the first plenary for adoption of the Rules. Then followed the registration of delegates on the lists of selected topics. According to people close to the Palais du Peuple, a special budget was passed by the Presidium for success in this meeting. Although exact figures are not known, the fact remains that this budget supports delegates’ travel, especially that of those inside the country and in the diaspora, food, accommodation and of course a snack or better, a per diem. The rumour is $400 per day or more. According to other sources, the per diem was reduced to $50 per day.
On 10th September, the Innovative Forces for Union and Solidarity (FONUS / Opposition) criticised the adoption of the Rules of Procedure of national consultations without debate in the plenary. The Secretary General of the party, the National Deputy Emery Okundji Ndjovu, said that “although the result of a ‘consensus’ within the contact group set up the way we know and we have not hesitated to denounce practices, such a document of high legal consequences would require the contradictory opinions of all involved in the plenary in so far as it constitutes a judicious compass to guarantee freedom of expression and opinion and to conform to the article of the ordinance convening the meeting”. FONUS also deplored the tampering of the quota and lists and the disorganisation that has allowed the list of participants to rise from 700 to more than 1,000 attendees.
Indeed, lists of delegates from civil society and the opposition are still causing problems. For this purpose, the Presidium has established a commission to verify the lists of all components. Oversubscribed lists of delegates, partial lists and lists containing the names of fictitious delegates are corrected and updated daily. Meanwhile, only representatives of institutions of the Republic have received their working papers without any problems. This is for the simple reason that their lists were approved by the ad hoc committee without difficulties. These include lists of delegates of the Presidency of the Republic, the Government, the Parliament (National Assembly and Senate), the courts and tribunals as well as provincial institutions. The guests of the Head of State, whose list was also validated, were also added to these.
On 10th September, the Movement for Renewal (MR), an opposition party, announced that they will no longer participate in the national dialogue. Its president, Clément Kanku, explained how the demands of the opposition were not taken into account in the rules of procedure of consultations. nor in the inaugural speech of the Head of State, Joseph Kabila. Clément Kanku had actively participated in the work of the Preparatory Committee of the National Consultations to promote, he said, a real inclusive and open dialogue between all parties. After analysing the words of President Kabila, the MR denounced the retraction of some fundamental questions that could, in their opinion, actually defuse the atmosphere and promote true national cohesion. On the subject of inclusiveness, the MR emphasised the undoubted need for a meeting between President Kabila and Etienne Tshisekedi, to clear the issue of legitimacy, which would guarantee greater inclusiveness and representation of the population. In terms of facilitation, beyond formal thanks, we did not hear specific elements that demonstrate the effectiveness of external mediation, the absence of President Sassou or his representative anywhere in the President’s speech in this session which speaks volumes.
Regarding the immunity of participants before, during and after the foundation, we found that no act has been taken to protect the fighters of the diaspora and members of certain national armed movements.
Regarding the release of political opponents, the President of the Republic spoke very briefly about parole and presidential elections in study in his Cabinet, awaiting the amnesty law in Parliament, while people wait for concrete actions, such as the release of Pastor Kuthino, the Honourable Chalupa, the Honourable Eugene Diomi, the Honourable Mohindo, the Honourable Onusumba and others.
The President of the Republic has made no commitment about the solemn commitment of the Head of the State to ensure the implementation of the resolutions of the consultations and their opposability to the institutions of the Republic, so that the resolutions of these meetings will not go unheeded. On the other hand, Article 6 of the Rules of the consultations indicates that the conclusions and recommendations of the plenary will be presented to the President of the Republic by the Presidium as a general report of the work. The same article requires the Head of State, presidents of the Senate and the National Assembly and the Government to ensure, as appropriate, the execution or implementation of the recommendations of the consultations.
Regarding the revision of the Constitution, we did not hear the Head of State take the commitment, in clear and unambiguous terms, not to allow and not to seek a third term in 2016.
On the issue of a government of national unity, the MR urged his colleagues of the Opposition to leave the Majority to assume and consume a failure ”alone” until 2016, so that the opposition can offer genuine change and not give an opportunity for the majority to make any extension of this mandate by subterfuge or other political manoeuvres.
On the subject of the resumption of the negotiations of Kampala, we can legitimately ask the question of the value of the resolutions that would be obtained through the National Consultations, compared to those of Kampala. It is imperative that the government focuses its opinion on this issue which undermines our sovereignty, whatever the international and diplomatic constraints.
On 10th September, working papers were distributed to participants which, despite the delay, allowed them to know the detailed content of the topics to be discussed.
The thematic groups (general assemblies) of the national consultations were based upon the five themes set by the presidential order establishing this meeting.
The first thematic group (156 members) on Governance, democracy and institutional reforms will discuss issues including the political system. It will assess the electoral system and the detailed plan of the 2013-2016 election cycle. It will also discuss the reform of public services, including those of justice, defence and security.
The second thematic group (172 members) on Economy, productive sector and public finances will address the issue of economic policies in the DRC, the reform of public finances, the evaluation of the reform of the portfolio of the state and prospects of privatisation of public businesses.
The third cluster (171 members) on disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration and repatriation will address the causes of the war in eastern DRC. A mapping of armed groups operating in this part of the country to the East of the DRC should also be established. Participants will also work on coaching strategies and ways to eradicate armed groups.
The fourth thematic group (153 members) on Community Conflict, Peace and Reconciliation address the issue of community conflicts. Participants in this work will also reflect on the restoration of the authority of the state, peace, security and national cohesion.
The fifth thematic group (148 members), which focuses on decentralisation and strengthening the authority of the state will address the issue of territorial boundaries against national cohesion.
On 11th September, during the plenary session, participants established offices for the thematic groups. Each office has five members, including two co-facilitators, a head rapporteur and two assistant rapporteurs. Each thematic group is composed of delegates from the institutions of the Republic, the majority in power, the opposition and civil society. These working groups are comprised of the five themes set by the Presidential order of 26th June. As part of examining the questions before them, the members of each group make a diagnosis and develop a prospective analysis of the country’s situation in the examined area and then make recommendations. The decisions of the general assemblies are made by consensus of the components. In the absence of consensus, the question is left open to be submitted to the Presidium and/or the plenary.
 Cf Kambale Mutogherwa – La Tempête des Tropiques (The Tropical Storm) – Kinshasa, 10.09.2013
 Cf Socrate Nsimba – La Prospérité (Prosperity) – Kinshasa, 22.08.2013
 Cf La Prospérité – Kinshasa, 22/08/2013 (via mediacongo.net)
 Cf Radio Okapi, 27.08.2013
 Cf Luc-Roger Mbala Bemba – L’Observateur – Kinshasa, 03.09.2013
 Cf H.M. Mukebayinkoso – Congo News – Kinshasa, 27.08.2013
Cf 7 sur 7. cd, 29.08.’13
 Cf Radio Okapi, 31.08.’13; La Prospérité – Kinshasa, 02.09.’1 ; Texte de la déclaration:
 Cf Radio Okapi, 02.09.2013
 Cf Le Phare – Kinshasa, 02.09.’13; AFP – Kinshasa, 02.09.2013
 Cf Radio Okapi, 02.09.2013
 Cf Africa News – Kinshasa, 04.09.2013
 Cf RFI, 04.09.’13; Trésor Kibangula – Jeune Afrique, 03.09.2013
 Cf Fadi Lendo – Congo News – Kinshasa, 07.09.2013
 Cf RFI, 07.09.2013
 Cf Tshieke Bukasa – Le Phare – Kinshasa, 09.09.2013
 Cf Tshieke Bukasa – Le Phare – Kinshasa, 09.09.2013
 Cf Le Potentiel – Kinshasa, 09.09.2013
 Cf Radio Okapi, 08.09.2013
 Cf La Prospérité – Kinshsasa, 09.09.2013
 Cf Radio Okapi, 09.09.2013
 Cf Radio Okapi, 08.09.2013
 Cf La Prospérité – Kinshasa, 10.09.2013
 Cf Bertin Kangamotema – Le Potentiel – Kinshasa, 10.09.2013
 Cf Dorian Kisimba – Forum des As – Kinshasa, 11.09.2013
 Cf La Prospérité – Kinshasa, 11.09.2013
 Cf Radio Okapi, 11.09.2013
 Cf Radio Okapi, 11 et 12.09.’13;