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Posted on Tuesday, 05 August 2014 15:18

DRC's Plotters, planners and peacemakers

By Habibou Bangré in Kinshasa

Questions remain about the amnesty and peace agreements in the east, but the political scene in the capital is focused on upcoming polls.

Elections will dominate the political agenda over the next two years. Critics say that President Joseph Kabila is manoeuvring to stay beyond the end of his last mandate in 2016.

Election officials announced in late May that local elections scheduled for the end of the year will finally be organised in 2015 between 14 June and 15 October.

The Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante (CENI) says that holding presidential elections in 2016 is "imperative".

CENI's president, Father Apollinaire Malu Malu, explains: "CENI will never be part of the group of people wanting to go beyond 2016."

Still, several opposition leaders accuse Malu Malu of plotting to allow Kabila to remain in power.

One of the most vocal critics is Vital Kamerhe (1). He was president of the National Assembly and helped Kabila win 2006 elections before creating his opposition party, the Union pour la Nation Congolaise, and running for president in 2011.

As the debate goes on, there have been suggestions that Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo, who has gained the support of the country's donors, will not lead the government of national unity promised last October after national consultations.

A source close to the presidency says National Assembly president Aubin Minaku could be nominated.

Others bet on Senate president Léon Kengo wa Dondo, who was fourth in the 2011 presidential election, and Daniel Mukoko Samba, the deputy prime minister and budget minister.

There has not been much political debate, on the other hand, since Parti Travailliste Congolais member of parliament Steve Mbikayi tabled a bill aiming at criminalising same-sex relationships late last year.

The bill does not appear on the agenda of this parliamentary session.

In the mining sector, André Kapanga, former ambassador to the United Nations, may soon face challenges as senior vice-president for external relations at Tenke Fungurume.

The Katanga-based mining company is part of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, but in May a dozen associations accused the government of neglecting to monitor investments in the sector, including at the Tenke Fungurume operations.

Addis ababa agreement

For a lasting peace in the east, mediators are calling for the full implementation of the February 2013 Addis Ababa agreement signed by 11 African countries.

The DRC government promised to implement political, social and security reforms, while the other countries pledged not to support rebel groups.

François Muamba (2), the former secretary general of the Mouvement de Libération du Congo opposition party, is president of the Congolese government board charged with monitoring progress.

The board's operations have been slowed by poor organisation and a lack of funds.

The parties signed the agreement after the Mouvement du 23 Mars (M23) rebels took Goma, the capital of Nord-Kivu. Government forces and an African intervention force defeated the rebellion at the end of 2013.

In February, Kabila signed an amnesty law that does not concern war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In May, M23 announced that its combatants and political leaders in Uganda – including political president Bertrand Bisimwa and former military chief Sultani Makenga – had applied for amnesty.

On the cultural scene, singer Lokua Kanza (3) celebrated his 20- year solo carreer in Kinshasa with Fally Ipupa, Jean Goubald, Olivier Tshimanga, Richard Bona and Sara Tavares.

Kanza's main message was peace for the people of Africa and elsewhere.

As the son of a Congolese father and a Rwandan mother, he stressed the importance for the two countries to improve their relations.

Fashion stylist Meni Mbugha will show his creations from 11 to 31 July in Kinshasa. His clothes have black and red symbols inspired by the art of pygmies living in north-eastern DRC.

Mbugha's ultimate goal is to open a workshop where pygmies could paint fabric to improve their livelihoods. ● Habibou Bangré in Kinshasa



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