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Cablegate: Kabila Nominates Palu Candidate for Prime Minster Post

VZCZCXRO5325
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0882 2881419
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 141419Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8604
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS KINSHASA 000882

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL CG
SUBJECT: KABILA NOMINATES PALU CANDIDATE FOR PRIME MINSTER POST

REFS: (A) KINSHASA 873; (B) Kinshasa 802

1. (U) Late on October 10, President Joseph Kabila nominated
Adolphe Muzito to be Prime Minster. Muzito is currently Minister of
Budget and a member of the Unified Lumumbist Party (PALU -- "Parti
unifie lumumbiste" in French). The nomination was announced 24
hours after a televised address during which Kabila called for
national unity and the mobilization of Congolese society to end the
conflict in the east and address pressing infrastructure and
development needs (ref A).

2. (U) The nomination follows the September 25 resignation of
Antoine Gizenga, 83, the former Deputy Prime Minister under Patrice
Lumumba in 1960-61 and long time PALU leader (ref B). Speculation
prior to the announcement focused on whether Kabila would honor the
pre-electoral 2006 agreement between his Alliance for the
Presidential Majority (AMP -- "Alliance de la majorite
presidentielle" in French) and PALU, whereby PALU threw its support
behind the pro-Kabila coalition in exchange for the prime minister's
post. PALU's support ensured Kabila of additional support in
western DRC, and particularly in the PALU stronghold of Bandundu
province. By selecting Muzito, a PALU member from Bandundu, Kabila
maintained the governmental alliance and avoided a potential
east-west political imbalance. A new government, which will require
approval by the National Assembly, is expected to be named in the
next 1-2 weeks.

3. (SBU) Muzito, 51 and a nephew of Gizenga, is a member of the
Pende tribe from the Kwilu district of Bandundu. He was named
Budget Minster in the Gizenga government in 2006 after serving as a
National Deputy in the 2003-2006 transition government. Prior to
government service, he was a career financial inspector, working as
an auditor for the cement company CINAT in Bas-Congo. He has a
degree in Economics from the University of Kinshasa. He is widely
seen as a competent technocrat likely selected for his managerial
talents and suitability as a PALU candidate within the AMP alliance.
A loquacious speaker, Muzito recognizes the need to modernize the
DRC economy and improve its investment climate. However, he has
occasionally viewed the DRC's current challenges in the context of
colonial or Cold War-era politics, rather than current global
economic realities.

4. (SBU) Comment: Despite Muzito's technical credentials on
economic and fiscal issues and good working relationships with
donors, some have questioned whether he has the political experience
and base necessary to address the DRC's enormous challenges. In
addition to continuing instability in Eastern DRC, Muzito will need
to respond to domestic criticism that the Gizenga administration did
not do enough to improve the lives of ordinary Congolese. Two key
tests for Muzito on the economic front will be his ability to ensure
passage of a sound 2009 budget, currently being drafted, and to move
the DRC toward a new IMF program and HIPC completion point as soon
as possible. As for dealing with the problem of instability in the
East, Kabila, along with Defense Minister Chikez, Interior Minister
Kalume, and MFA Mbusa, will continue to take the lead. End Comment.


BROCK

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