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Cablegate: Kamerhe, Kengo Stress State Authority and Reform at Opening

VZCZCXRO9101
OO RUEHGI RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0306/01 0911355
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 311355Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7742
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUEHJB/AMEMBASSY BUJUMBURA 0012
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KINSHASA 000306

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON PHUM CG
SUBJECT: KAMERHE, KENGO STRESS STATE AUTHORITY AND REFORM AT OPENING
OF PARLIAMENT


1. Summary: National security, judicial reform, and the lack of
fundamental services such as water and electricity were key themes
presented at Parliament's March 15 opening ceremonies by the leaders
of its two houses. National Assembly President Kamerhe cited recent
violence in Bas-Congo as an unacceptable challenge to state
authority. Senate President Kengo focused on social issues and
economic and educational opportunity. Both made appeals to
legislators and Congolese society to set aside differences in order
to move forward with reform. End summary.

2. National Assembly President Vital Kamerhe and Senate President
Leon Kengo Wa Dondo framed the legislative agenda for the Congolese
Parliament's Spring 2008 session in their addresses to fellow
legislators, government officials and foreign diplomats March 15.
Kamerhe interwove continuing legislative priorities with current
events, including the Goma peace conference and violence in
Bas-Congo. Kengo spoke in more general terms, addressing themes of
security, social services, economy, health and education.

Kamerhe
-------

3. Kamerhe reviewed the Fall 2007 regular and December 2007-January
2008 special sessions, highlighting legislation adopted and the
activities of special Assembly commissions. He summarized the
present session's agenda, which includes establishing judicial
oversight bodies and restructuring the court system, creating
sub-provincial jurisdictions to decentralize state authority, and
standing up the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) as
the successor to the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI).

4. Kamerhe committed the second half of his address to events of the
January-March 2008 intersessional period. He reviewed at length the
Goma peace conference and resulting Acte d'Engagement, violence in
Bas-Congo province, earthquakes in North and South Kivu, and threats
to a government minister in Lubumbashi by supporters of a political
rival.

5. Kamerhe used the events to emphasize resolving conflicts through
negotiation, rather than violence, and the fundamental importance of
state authority. He cited violence in Bas-Congo, where police
forces and militants of the politico-religious movement Bundu dia
Kongo (BDK) clashed repeatedly since late February, and an incident
in Lubumbashi where Land Affairs Minister Edouard Kabu Kapwa was
effectively made a prisoner in his own hotel by supporters of a
political rival, as threats to state authority. His warning to
National Assembly Deputy and BDK leader Ne Muanda Nsemi to cease
inciting his followers to violence drew strong reactions of support
from the assembled deputies.

6. Kamerhe called on the government to provide all possible
assistance to communities affected by the February 3 earthquake in
North and South Kivu and subsequent aftershocks. He praised the
appointment of Abbe Apollinaire Malumalu as national coordinator for
the "Amani" peace, security, stabilization, and development program
for the Kivu provinces. He evoked the success of President Kabila
in leading the DRC out of violence through diplomacy as a model for
the program.

7. Kamerhe encouraged the Assembly to work together to find
solutions to the question of revenue sharing between the provincial
and national governments, and noted the importance of customs
reforms initiated by the government to increasing revenues. He
praised adoption of the $3 billion 2008 DRC budget, while
acknowledging that at current levels it remains insufficient to
address the persistent national problem of poverty.

Kengo
-----

8. Senate president Leon Kengo Wa Dondo's speech focused in more
general terms on national security, the economy, government reform,
education and health. His sharpest commentary came on security
issues. He criticized the government's inability to secure the
eastern DRC from armed groups and from incursions by Mborboro
tribesman into Orientale. He acknowledged the potential of the Goma
Acte d'Engagement and lauded the role of the international community
in facilitating the agreement.

9. Kengo dedicated a third of his speech to social concerns, such as
the provision of water, electricity, health care and education. He
pointed out that the Congolese people lacked sufficient electricity
and potable water despite the DRC's abundant natural resources,
including hydroelectric potential. He highlighted the flight of
intellectual capital and called for reform of the educational
system. Kengo addressed the problem of violence against women,

KINSHASA 00000306 002 OF 002


emphasizing that all women in Congo -- not only those in the eastern
conflict areas -- should have access to adequate health care,
especially victims of sexual violence.

10. Kengo briefly listed draft laws before the Senate. He noted
that the pace of judicial reform will be determined by legislation
establishing the High Council of Magistrates and the new court
system. He called for an approach of "open arms" rather than
"closed fists" to overcome legislative challenges, and made a broad
call for unity of effort despite provincial differences in order to
stimulate government action on reform.

Comment
-------

11. The challenges before the National Assembly and Senate will
require the high level of cooperation called for by Kamerhe and
Kengo. Critical legislation such as decentralization and judicial
reform will be even more difficult to achieve as unscheduled
proceedings, such as the March 27-29 questioning of Interior
Minister Denis Kalume and BDK leader Ne Muanda Nsemi on the events
in Bas-Congo, are added to the agenda. End comment.

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