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Cablegate: Parliamentary Update: Extraordinary Session

VZCZCXRO8858
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0906/01 2140608
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 020608Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6628
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KINSHASA 000906

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM CG
SUBJECT: PARLIAMENTARY UPDATE: EXTRAORDINARY SESSION
POST-MORTEM

REF: A. KINSHASA 679
B. KINSHASA 343

1. Summary. The National Assembly and the Senate closed
their special sessions on July 18. The Assembly considered
five of twelve scheduled items: the 2007 budget, the laws on
the political opposition and national road patrimony
protection, and ad hoc commission reports on the Kahemba
border dispute with Angola, and the invalidation of the
elections of 18 MPs by the Supreme Court. The Senate only
considered and amended legislation arising from the lower
house in this session. In addition to the remaining items
from the current agenda, both chambers will consider a
significant number of new bills in their next ordinary
sessions, scheduled to open on September 15. End summary.

---------------------
Significant Decisions
---------------------

2. The draft law on the budget was initially passed by the
National Assembly and then revised by the Senate. After
discussions by a joint committee, the USD 2.446 billion
budget (at an exchange rate of 560 Congolese francs to the
dollar) was signed by President Kabila on July 7.

3. The Law on the Opposition was drafted and proposed by MLC
deputy Delly Sesanga (ref A) and revised by both the Assembly
and the Senate. The draft recognizes both Parliamentary and
Extra-Parliamentary Opposition, and guarantees both the right
to participate in political activities without fear of
persecution. After the Senate's consideration, the text
includes a new title for the leader of the Opposition, who
will be elected by Opposition members of both the Assembly
and the Senate and called "Spokesman," and elevates his rank
from Minister to Minister of State. The draft law will be
considered by the joint Assembly/Senate committee to
reconcile the language in the next regular session, after
which it will be forwarded to the Supreme Court to certify
its constitutionality and presented to President Kabila for
promulgation.

4. The Assembly approved an ad hoc commission report on the
border dispute with Angola in the Kahemba region of Bandundu
province (ref B). The commission, headed by opposition
deputy Roger Lumbala, approved language which stated that "at
least 13 Congolese villages of the locality of Kahemba were
invaded and occupied by Angola." Since this conclusion
contradicted the GDRC experts' previous conclusion that
"Angola did not invade or occupy a single inch of the DRC
territory," the Assembly recommended that a joint commission
comprising the DRC, Angola, and the former colonial powers
(Belgium and Portugal) meet to settle the dispute.

5. The "Matadi Nenga" ad hoc commission, which was set up to
investigate the invalidation of the election of 18 Assembly
MPs by the Supreme Court for various irregularities, finally
determined that the Court's invalidations should be upheld.
The 18 affected MPs have already been replaced (septel).

6. The National Road Patrimony Protection law seeks to
inventory existing Congolese roads and set up a fund to
ensure their maintenance and further development. The law
was unanimously approved by the Assembly and now rests with
the Supreme Court. If found constitutional, it will also be
forwarded to President Kabila for promulgation.

-------------
Future Agenda
-------------

7. Parliamentarians in both chambers now begin a two-month
break to consult with their constituencies. Both chambers
are scheduled to hold regular sessions from September 15
through December 15. In the Assembly, more than 50 draft
laws -- in addition to those priority bills left over from
the special session, such as the Law on Decentralization, the
establishment of the new Electoral Commission, and the High
Magistrates' Council -- will be on the table. In addition,
the next session should consider and adopt a budget for
calendar year 2008. The Senate will consider joint
commissions with the National Assembly as well as internal
rules for drafting and approving legislation.

-------
Comment

KINSHASA 00000906 002 OF 002


-------

8. While the process has gotten off to a slow start, both
the Assembly and the Senate have established their basic
organization, committee structure, and internal rules and
procedures, all of which was a significant effort in and of
itself. Substantively, the new parliament made a respectable
effort to address some of the most pressing political and
developmental issues. Now, visible results are necessary.
Many challenges remain, and both institutions need to
demonstrate that they are capable of delivering real progress
to the Congolese people. End comment.
MEECE

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