Cablegate: National Assembly Approves Muzito Government

DE RUEHKI #0975/01 3110602
P 060602Z NOV 08



E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (U) Summary: The National Assembly approved the government of
Prime Minister Adolphe Muzito on November 2. The government easily
obtained the necessary absolute majority vote following intense
debate during an emergency plenary session of parliament. Muzito
stressed reinforcing state authority, the implementation of
development priorities, and the improvement of living standards in
his presentation to the Assembly. Opposition deputies criticized
the lack of details in the plan and the rushed nature of the
confirmation proceedings. Major changes in the Muzito government
include the creation of three Deputy Prime Minister posts to
coordinate the government's security and development priorities; the
creation of new ministerial posts for decentralization and human
rights, and new ministers at Defense, Interior, and Foreign Affairs.
The economic team remains largely unchanged. Muzito will face
early challenges in managing the crises in the east and the 2009
budgetary process. End summary.

Priorities: Security, Development, Social Services
--------------------------------------------- ------

2. (U) The National Assembly, meeting in an emergency session early
in the morning of November 2, approved the government of Prime
Minister-designate Adolphe Muzito (reftel). Deputies approved the
new government, the third government since the 2006 elections, by a
vote of 294 to 67, with seven abstentions. The vote punctuated a
marathon debate of eleven hours following the presentation to the
Assembly the previous day of Muzito's official program.

3. (U) Appearing before the Assembly October 31, Muzito presented
the new government's agenda for resolving the short term security
and humanitarian crisis in the east and the long term growth and
development challenges facing the DRC. He outlined the new
government's three primary themes: re-establishment of state
authority to promote peace and national unity; implementation of the
five development priorities ("cinq chantiers" in French); and
improvement of living standards through the provision of basic
social services. Muzito said the government would achieve the three
priorities through a comprehensive strategy of good governance.

4. (U) Opposition deputies criticized the debate on procedural
grounds, notably the examination, discussion, and approval of the
government program in a compressed time schedule. The opposition
also criticized the lack of clear signals and specific details, seen
by some as a clear break with the outgoing Gizenga government.

Three New Deputy Prime Ministers

5. (SBU) Muzito's government reflects important structural and
personnel changes in the defense, security, governance and
development sectors, while ministers in the principal economic and
fiscal dossiers remained mostly unchanged. The broadest structural
change is the creation of three new Deputy Prime Minister posts:
Basic Social Needs (Francois Mobutu Nzanga); Reconstruction (Emile
Bongeli); and Defense and Security (Mutombo Bakafwa Nsenda).
Leading coalition partner PPRD ("Parti du peuple pour la
reconstruction et la democratie" in French) Secretary General
Evariste Boshab told Poloffs October 28 that the creation of the new
positions would allow the Deputy Prime Ministers to focus on overall
coordination within their respective portfolios. In a surprising
move, the portfolio for decentralization, one of the most
contentious and long-awaited Constitutional changes, was removed
from the Ministry of Interior and placed in its own ministry.
Additionally, a new ministerial position was created for human

Defense, Interior Ministers Sacked; Econ Team Stays
--------------------------------------------- ------

6. (U) Key personnel changes include the sacking of Chikez Diemu
and Denis Kalume at the Ministries of Defense and Interior, replaced
by Charles Mwando Nsimba and Celestin Mbuyu Kabangu, respectively.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is under new leadership as well,
that of Alexis Thambwe Mwamba. The retention of the Ministers of
Finance (Athanase Matenda), Economy (Andre Futa), Plan (Olivier
Kamitatu), and State-Owned Enterprises (Jeanine Mabunda) will keep
intact the GDRC teams that have interacted with donors since the
November 2007 cabinet reshuffle. The mining review process will
likely continue under the extended mandate of Minister of Mines
Martin Kabwelulu. The new Human Rights Ministry is headed by Upio
Kakura, a former National Assembly Deputy and President of the
Parliamentary Network for Human Rights (Note: Kakura endorsed the
parliamentary bill to establish the High Council of Magistrates, a
controversial piece of legislation essential to the creation of an
independent judiciary. The legislation was supported through
USAID's justice programs. End note.).

KINSHASA 00000975 002 OF 002

Regional Representation is a Factor

7. (SBU) The nomination of Katangans and Kabila allies to control
the Ministries of Defense, Interior, Mines, and Foreign Affairs
reinforces the importance of regional origin and loyalty as a
critical factor in selecting ministerial candidates. Both Mwando
Nsimba and Kabangu are from Katanga, as is Kabila. (Note: Mwando
Nsimba, former President of the Transitional Assembly's Political,
Administrative and Judicial Commission, was a respected and close
former USAID partner.) It also worth pointing out, however that
Defense Minister Chikez, although from Katanga, was not retained,
undoubtedly because his performance as defense minister was in part
responsible for the collapse of the nation's armed forces. New
foreign minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba is from Maniema province
(Note: Kabila's mother and mother-in-law are from Maniema. End
note). North Kivu sources were surprised by the large
representation of eastern Congolese in the Cabinet, including the
nomination of Safi Adiki as Rural Development Minister. Adiki is a
representative of the ethnic Tutsi population and formerly with the
office of the governor of North Kivu.

8. (SBU) Comment: The lengthy period between the Gizenga
resignation (September 25), Muzito's nomination (October 10) and the
presentation of the government to the National Assembly (October 31)
is in stark contrast to the Assembly's rapid discussion, debate, and
approval of the government (November 1-2). Such a lengthy period
belied the urgent security situation in the Kivus and in the Ituri
district of the Orientale Province, which present the Muzito
government with its most pressing challenges. The retention of the
primary budgetary, economic and fiscal ministers will likely ensure
continuity with donor coordination teams and familiarity with
critical portfolios during the 2009 budget examination process.
This continuity is critical as the GDRC addresses donor concerns
over the multi-billion China agreement and takes steps towards a new
IMF program. At the same time, the GDRC must do more to address
discontent over the high cost of living and the perceived lack of
attention to the basic economic needs of the population. The most
significant changes are in the defense and security sectors,
unsurprising in light of the recent poor performance of the FARDC
against armed groups in the east. Finally, the creation of the
three Deputy Prime Minister positions tracks closely with Kabila's
five development priorities program, although the primary criticism
of the Gizenga government was one not of structure, but of political
will. End comment.


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