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Cablegate: Another Transition Procedural Glitch

VZCZCXYZ0275
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKI #1448 2581300
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 151300Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4791
INFO RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE IMMEDIATE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK IMMEDIATE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 0453

UNCLAS KINSHASA 001448

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM CG
SUBJECT: ANOTHER TRANSITION PROCEDURAL GLITCH


1. (U) In accordance with the DRC,s very complicated new
constitution, and following the July 30 presidential and
National Assembly elections, the 500 members of the new
elected National Assembly are to take office in an initial
session on September 22. The ceremonial installation is
expected to be followed by an initial Assembly working
session to elect officers and formulate and adopt internal
regulations and procedures. Under terms of the new
constitution, the Assembly will play an important role in the
future government, including GDRC budgetary approval and
oversight, needed majority support for the new Prime Minister
and ministers, and the power to pass a motion of censure,
bringing down the government. The installation of the new
Assembly represents an important and visible milestone toward
the successful completion of the DRC's long-running
transition and eventual installation of a
democratically-elected government.

2. (SBU) One of the provisions of the electoral law, however,
precludes a government minister from also serving as a
National Assembly representative. Roughly half of the
Transition Government's 60 plus ministers and vice ministers
were elected to the new Assembly, thus obliging them to make
a choice soon whether to continue as Transition ministers, or
take their seats in the new Assembly. According to the
electoral law, newly-elected members have eight days from the
time their mandates are validated to accept their positions
in the Assembly. The law, however, is silent on when that
"validation" actually takes place either with the
installation of the Assembly itself, or when the DRC's
Supreme Court validates the legislative results in
mid-November . In any case, if an elected representative
does not take his or her seat, the candidate's "suppleant"
(or substitute, who was named by the candidate when he or she
registered to run, but did not appear on the ballot) will
automatically be selected for the vacant seat. On the other
hand, the resignation of roughly half the transition cabinet
will have an obvious impact on the operations of the
Transition Government for its remaining lifespan. Given
October 29 second-round elections, a new post-election
government may not be formed before the end of this calendar
year.

3. (SBU) Many, if not all, of the current ministers are
clearly loathe to give up their current positions, with all
the attendant opportunities for better (official and
non-official) compensation. On the other hand, presumably
these politicians will not be eager to sacrifice their secure
seats in a future institution for an uncertain fate as a
possible selectee in the new government. At this point,
there is no obvious legal way to finesse the issue.

4. (SBU) Comment: Some have speculated that cutting the
cabinet in half could, in fact, improve the operations of the
poorly functioning Transition Government. Clearly, however,
any band-aid fix, such as assigning remaining ministers to
cover more than one ministry or seeking improvised coverage
by vice ministers, would not be ideal. Trying to reach
negotiated political deals to fill the ministerial vacancies
for the remaining months of the transition is possible, but
would most likely result in a crop of appointees more
interested in seeking short-term opportunities at the trough
than in carrying forward the work of the country. Whatever
the approach taken, the situation would seem to offer another
basis for low expectations of GDRC performance over the next
few months. End comment.
MEECE

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