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Vol 44 No 20

Published 10th October 2003


Congo-Kinshasa

Le grand retour

President Kabila is thriving in the new coalition but many fear it will be the last chance to reunite the country

Warlords, veteran politicians, technocrats and business people are crowding into Kinshasa, either to shape the future or to make some money. Not since the ill-fated Conférence Nationale Souveraine of the early 1990s has the capital seen so many operators of different persuasions. Diplomats, donors, United Nations officials and many Congolese see this as an opportunity to focus attention on the country's national dilemmas, which are legion, and away from the regional dynamic of the last five years of conflict. Many believe the new power-sharing government (AC Vol 44 No 16) is the last chance to keep the country together, as long as the reassembled multitudes keep swimming in the same direction. For the first time in its history, Congo has a National Assembly with constitutional powers to restrain the executive. But can its 600 members, and the Senators, count on being paid? So far they have received just US$600 for setting-up costs. Many senators and deputies, especially former exiles and those from the provinces, are literally going without food. Hungry senators are easy to manipulate. In Kinshasa, where families take turns to miss meals, the new term for hunger is delestage (load-shedding).

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