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Cablegate: Bas-Congo Update: Drc Supreme Court Upholds

VZCZCXRO2203
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0200 0511529
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 201529Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5636
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS KINSHASA 000200

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM CG ELECTIONS
SUBJECT: BAS-CONGO UPDATE: DRC SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS
ELECTION OF PRO-KABILA CANDIDATE IN GUBERNATORIAL RACE

REF: A. KINSHASA 161
B. KINSHASA 134

1. (U) The DRC's Supreme Court ruled February 16 to uphold
the election of Simon Mbatshi Batshia, an independent
candidate allied with President Joseph Kabila, as governor of
Bas-Congo province. The Court's ruling overturns a February 8
verdict by the Bas-Congo appellate court ordering a runoff
election (ref A). The January 26 gubernatorial result had
been challenged by Leonard Fuka Unzola of Jean-Pierre Bemba's
Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) party after he
lost by a 15-14 vote of provincial deputies. Batshia's
victory gives the pro-Kabila Alliance for the Presidential
Majority governorships of 10 of the DRC's 11 provinces.

2. (U) Fuka and the MLC had argued for a runoff election
based on a technical definition of "absolute majority." The
MLC's argued that the winning candidate in the 29-vote
election had to receive 16 votes: 14.5 votes, rounded up to
15, plus one more. While the Bas-Congo appellate court upheld
this argument, the Supreme Court rejected it, stating
Congolese law is not clear on the issue of how an absolute
majority must be calculated.

3. (U) Batshia's initial victory triggered violent protests
in early February in several Bas-Congo cities, resulting in
more than 100 dead (ref B). The separatist politico-religious
group Bundu dia Kongo (BDK), whose leader was the defeated
candidate for vice governor, claimed provincial deputies were
bribed by the AMP to vote for Batshia. Bemba's Union for the
Nation alliance has the majority in Bas-Congo's provincial
assembly, and the province itself voted 3-to-1 in favor of
Bemba in the October 29 presidential runoff election. There
have been no reports of further unrest since the Court issued
its ruling February 16.

4. (U) BDK spiritual leader Ne Muanda Nsemi said in press
reports February 19 that he disagreed with the Court's
decision. He called on President Kabila to intervene and
order a runoff election.

5. (U) Batshia outlined his main governing priorities in a
February 18 press conference in Kinshasa. He said his primary
objectives as governor would be to assist an economic
"revolution" in the mining sector and to create a viable
middle class. He cautioned that mining exploitation cannot be
the sole solution for the province, adding that agricultural
production will be equally important for development.

6. (SBU) Comment: The Supreme Court's ruling may be legally
correct but will please few in Bas-Congo. Most voters believe
the gubernatorial election was fraudulent and that deputies'
votes were bought. The Court's decision will further
discourage voters who already believe the courts and the
electoral system are biased in favor of Kabila and his
allies. End comment.

7. (SBU) Biographic information:

Batshia, 57, is a native of Bas-Congo with several economic
interests and businesses in the province. He holds a 1972
degree in marketing from Lovanium University (later the
University of Kinshasa). From 1973-1977, he was a professor
at the Interdisciplinary Center for Development and Permanent
Education, as well as Director General of the Belgian mining
firm SOGEM. He was elected a people's commissar in 1977
representing a district in Bas-Congo. In 1982 he was named
Secretary of National Economy and Industry, and later became

SIPDIS
Minister of Labor and Social Planning. He also served as the
President of the Congo railroad parastatal SNCC in 1998 and
as President of Congo's maritime cargo parastatal OGEFREM
from 1991-1992.
MEECE

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