Saturday, January 13, 2007

DRC Update: Prime Minister Gizenga Set to Announce New Government

‘DRC set to announce new government’

KINSHASA--ANTOINE GIZENGA, Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, has affirmed that a new government will be announced in a few days.

The task of forming a government was being carried out in close negotiations between the prime minister and President Joseph Kabila in accordance with the country’s constitution, said the prime minister’s spokesman, Godefroid Mayobo, on Thursday.

The new government will be a coalition one made up of several parties constituting a parliamentary majority, he added.

As to the size of the future government, the spokesman revealed that they will not only take into account different political factors, but also the shared will of the president, the prime minister and members of the coalition to ensure that all important segments can receive necessary political representation.

Gizenga (81) was appointed prime minister on December 30, 2006 by President Kabila.

His government will have around 38 ministers, 20 assistant ministers and two ministers to serve in both offices of the president and the prime minister. — Xinhua.

Monuc Press Review - 12 January 2007

United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa)

January 12, 2007
By Tom Tshibangu

Today the main headlines in Kinshasa press are almost exclusively related to the arrival in Congolese capital Thursday of the body of Congolese Catholic Cardinal Frederic Etsou who died in Belgium on 6 January 2007. Also receiving wide coverage in the local newspapers is a statement from the Prime Minister's office giving details regarding the formation of the soon-to-come government.

Citing the statement Prime Minister Antoine Gizenga published yesterday, Le Phare reports: "The consultations over Cabinet formation continue" as Prime Minister Antoine Gizenga "needs more time."

The Prime Minister has "enlightened the public" on the formation of the Cabinet, notes Le Palmarès, referring to Mr Gizenga's Thursday statement. As quoted in this paper, the statement reads in part: "The proposed size [60 members] of the government being formed responds not only to political considerations relating to the nature of this government but also to the shared will of the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister and the members of the coalition, to see all sectors of national life receive adequate attention from those in power."

Commenting on the same statement, La Référence Plus writes: "It is likely the announced size of the government remains open to further discussions and revision."

Besides, "negotiations, discussions and meetings continue to take place," this paper notes, adding there is a "commitment is made to ensure the upcoming government does not live above the Republic's means."

"A government's size alone cannot mean an excessive operating cost, "points out Le Phare, arguing that "a small government may turn out to be more of a spendthrift than a bigger one."

In other news, L'Avenir and all other newspapers alike report on Thursday's arrival in the Congolese capital of the body of Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kinshasa, Cardinal Frederic Etsou who died in Belgium on 6 January 2007. "A [funeral] Mass will be celebrated at the stadium of the Martyrs [on Sunday]...prior to burial at the Cathedral of Kinshasa on Monday, 15 January."

MONUC to Redeploy Troops in Western DRC

United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa)

January 9, 2007
By Eoin Young

After the elections and the dawning of a new political era in the DRC, MONUC will commence a new redeployment of troops in western DRC. Lt. Col. Didier Rancher, the MONUC military spokesperson, explains this redeployment.

With the new political situation in the country, will there be a reduction in the number of MONUC troops?

This is not something that is on the agenda at the moment, but it is foreseen that at the end of January the situation will be discussed in New York. For the moment the current mandate extends to the middle of February, and until then there will be no reduction.

Will there be a redeployment of troops?

Absolutely, a redeployment of troops will commence between January 8 and 10, but it will essentially concern the troops that were put in place for the elections and the electoral period. It will concern the city of Bandundu and Kikwit, where there are 30 Uruguayan troops respectively, as well as the city of Matadi.

At Bandundu, Kikwit and Matadi, the sections will be redeployed to the sector of Kananga, because at the moment the situation is relatively calm in the west, and these deployments were purely temporary.

At Matadi however, we will take a section of Bolivians for redeployment, but we will put in place a mobile operating base which will be in place until the middle of February. This base will soon be withdrawn for redeployment in various cities in the whole of Bandundu, Kasaï or Equateur in the coming months.

This principle of mobile operating bases is that they are put in a certain area for some weeks, and then redeployed. Another movement of personnel is in Kanaga and Mbuji Mai.

At present there are 100 Bolivian soldiers from two units there that will be brought back towards Kindu in the Eastern sector. They will be replaced by certain Ghanaian units which will be drawn from Bandundu, a Uruguayan unit from Kikwit, and a Ghanaian unit from Matadi.

How long will this redeployment take?

This redeployment will start between the January 8 and 10, and will continue until the end of January, and we will do this in conjunction with the repatriation of battalions that will be returning to their countries of origin. At present some Ghanaian battalions have been repatriated, therefore we are taking the opportunity to redeploy troops in coordination with the troops that are returning home.

How many troops are involved in this redeployment?

The whole movement in the western zone comprises of 207 personnel.

Will there also be redeployment out east, especially in Ituri?

As I have just indicated, once the units of Bolivian origin that have been deployed at Kasaï, Kanaga and Mbuji Mai have been replaced by the Uruguayans, they will be redeployed to Kindu. In the framework that we had before the elections, in effect, we are moving these troops back to their original positions which they occupied before the elections.

There is not going to be a real eastern redeployment, it is just to rearrange the deployments to the way they were before. In addition there are 915 personnel from the UN mission in Burundi, who finished on December 30, on their way out to eastern DRC.

They will be redeployed on a temporary basis until the middle of February. Their mission will be to reinforce MONUC capacities out east, but purely on a temporary basis.

Will the mandate and tasks of the blue helmets here remain the same?

Here we have the same situation as in relation to troop numbers for the mission. Up until the middle of February the mandate and tasks will remain the same. Beyond this date, it's a decision for the Security Council, on the nature of the mandate, its composition and its duration.

This decision will probably be taken at the end of January, which will define whether the mission will remain the same or not.

Dismissal of TV Station Staff Threatens Press Freedom, Says IFJ

International Federation of Journalists (Brussels)
January 11, 2007

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the retaliatory dismissal of 15 journalists and other employees at private television channel Global Television (Global TV) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who were barred from their offices by management at the end of December after they asked for back pay.

On December 26, 2006, Global TV replaced 15 employees who were claiming payments for unremunerated work for periods of six to nine months. After making their claims for their back pay, the employees were dismissed and barred from their offices. Global TV refused to respond to their claims, the DRC's National Union of Media Professionals (SNPP) said.

The IFJ is supporting the SNPP in its demand that the Global TV management reinstate the fired workers with full rights and contracts as stipulated under Congolese law since the employees had all fulfilled their job requirements in good faith.

"When media companies trample the labour rights of their employees, they put press freedom in grave danger," said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa Office.

"Journalists who know they will be fired for demanding fair pay are extremely vulnerable to threats to their editorial independence. Journalists working at Global TV cannot stand up for themselves or their reporting when the company has made it clear that they will be fired for questioning management's authority in any way."

Clement Nzau, the co-ordinating director of Global TV, who is among the sacked workers, told Radio Okapi that he was the only employee with a contract. His contract was set to expire on December 31, 2006.

Global TV is owned by Mrs. Catherine Nzuzi wa Mbombo who has held high posts in Congolese politics, including terms as a government minister, governor of the capital city and president of a political party, and was a candidate in the recent presidential elections.

"We condemn this decision by Global TV management," Baglo said. "These practices are illegal under Congolese law and we are outraged that Mrs. Nzuzi wa Mbombo would force her employees to work under illegal conditions without any pay for up to nine months."

To date, Global TV management has refused to meet with the SNPP to respond to the workers' claims. SNPP Secretary General Stanis Nkundiyé says that his union is committed to solving the dispute and getting justice for the 15 employees.

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries.

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