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Cablegate: National Assembly Closes Regular Session, Reopens

VZCZCXRO9594
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0679 1701417
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 191417Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6347
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS KINSHASA 000679

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM CG
SUBJECT: NATIONAL ASSEMBLY CLOSES REGULAR SESSION, REOPENS
EXTRAORDINARY SESSION

REF: A. KINSHASA 644

B. KINSHASA 588
C. KINSHASA 546
D. KINSHASA 590

1. (U) Summary. The National Assembly adjourned on June 15
as scheduled, after passing two key pieces of legislation on
the budget and the opposition law. Deputies also approved an
amended report on the Bas-Congo violence in January. The
Assembly will convene an extraordinary session on June 19 to
consider additional pending legislation. End summary.

2. (SBU) A draft 2007 budget totaling USD 2.47 billion
passed the National Assembly on June 14 by a vote of 359 to
52, with 8 abstentions. The total budget increased from the
initially proposed USD 2.14 billion (ref B). The Assembly's
version of the budget retained the assumption of an average
exchange rate of 560 Congolese francs per USD, although the
rate of exchange is now below 500:1. There are many
unanswered questions about the budget (septel), which will
now be sent to the Senate for consideration. Of greatest
concern is the extraordinary assumption that an additional
USD 421 million of revenue will somehow materialize.

3. (U) The law on the opposition passed in an amended form
by a vote of 380 to 1. Key changes from the draft law
include the definition of the "extraparliamentary" opposition
which will have rights and responsibilities similar to those
defined for the parliamentary opposition, with the exception
of specific privileges such as parliamentary immunity.
(Note: Such an "extraparliamentary" opposition would include
individuals and groups, such as the UDPS, who do not
currently have deputies in the National Assembly, Senate, or
Provincial Assemblies. End note.) Another significant
change relates to the role of the "coordinator" of the
political opposition, who will now be designated by majority
vote of opposition parliamentarians, rather than the head of
the leading opposition party being proclaimed "chef de file,"
as proposed in the draft legislation (ref A).

4. (U) A majority of the Assembly approved the report on the
violence in Bas-Congo (ref C) which had previously been
amended in closed-door sessions. While the actual vote count
was not made public, some members of the opposition
complained that the report was not "explicit" enough in
naming those who had committed violence. The Assembly
announced that the report, along with its recommendations,
will now be published.

5. (SBU) The National Assembly has now passed two of the six
priority bills previously identified by its president Vital
Kamerhe in conversations with EmbOffs (ref D), and will
consider key legislation on decentralization in the
extraordinary session beginning June 19. Remaining priority
legislation includes the draft law on the High Magistrates'
Council and creation of successor organizations to the
Transition-era Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) and the
High Media Authority (HAM). Additional items to be
considered during the extraordinary session will likely
include the Assembly's own internal budget and issuance of a
report on a border dispute with Angola. The Senate -- which
must now consider legislation already approved by the
Assembly -- will also call an extraordinary session to begin
on June 19.

6. (SBU) Comment: No credible explanation has been given as
to how the GDRC's revenues will increase by roughly $421
million, although revenues have exceeding projections at
least the past two years. The passage of the law on the role
of the opposition, important as a symbol of democratic
progress, was achieved with broad support of both the
government and opposition members, a positive indication of
Kamerhe's leadership, and the general work of the Assembly.
Pushing Kamerhe's additional initiatives through by the
beginning of September's ordinary session, which Kamerhe
previously stated as his goal, will put both his commitment
and his leadership to the test. End comment.
MEECE

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