Yesterday we interviewed Mr. Gregoire Katende, spokesman for the DRC National Assembly, who spoke on the priorities facing the assembly, most notably the decentralization law, the law on the statute of the opposition and the invalidation of 18 deputies by the DRC Supreme Court, as well as the achievements of the Assembly to date.
The Assembly has deliberated on the government's 2007 budget. What is the next step?
Following last Saturday's session, the Assembly provisionally passed the budget for 2007. At the same time, they have decided to send it to the financial and economic commission for examination.
This commission will then have eight days to give their report to the Assembly. When the report arrives, there will be another large debate and any subsequent amendments will be made. Following this, we will vote on the budget.
What are the other priorities for the National Assembly?
There are a lot. Since the organisation of the elections, there has been a long delay in the installation of the institutions. This was because the parliament was not complete until the senate came into being.
Because of this delay, there were a lot of things that we were unable to do. What we have done, at the level of the National Assembly is to do the things that are most important, notably the need to put in place all the organs of the Assembly; its office; to create the commissions; to nominate commission members; to elect the office and commission members; and now, we are at the level where we are creating the sub commissions so that everything will be in place.
Therefore, at the level of the National Assembly, we are complete, since the conference of parliamentarians is ready. This is made up of the office members, the presidents of the parliamentary groups and the presidents of the permanent commissions.
There are a lot of priorities on the ground, especially the law on the statute of the opposition, since we are in a democracy. There is also the decentralization law that is a very big priority that will create a balance between the decentralized entities. Therefore the provinces and the central government at the moment function in a sort of harmony.
There is equally the 'péréquation' law which must be come into being before the law on the national independent electoral commission (CENI) is created.
We have voted on the law of 'crédits provisoires', but the senate has not yet voted on this. We could have done this a long time ago, but not first without the senate.
We are now concentrated on the budget, and once we finish, we will send it to the senate, which will be done in turn, as well as all the organic laws and financial laws.
The calendar that we have elbourated is quite full, with up to 40 issues to be addressed, and I think that after this session, we will absolutely have to have an extraordinary session.
The debates on the dossiers of Bundu dia Kongo(BDK) and the report on the Lumbala commission, in relation to the border conflict at Kahemba, have been suspended. When will the conclusions and recommendations be made?
At present we are in the middle of other priorities. Once the budget is sent on to the commissions, we will then be able to return to the dossiers of BDK and Lumbala.
How do you think the provinces will be able to function if the decentralization law still has no0t been voted on by the National Assembly?
Nevertheless they are there to function. We cannot stop the affairs of state. They function because of the external laws and in good faith, but nonetheless the decentralization law is the priority of priorities.
The plenary session will finish on June 15. What are its achievements?
The achievements are the putting in place of all the organs of the National Assembly. When we commence the extraordinary and ordinary sessions in September, we will be able to accelerate the voting process on the most important matters at hand.
The Supreme Court has invalidated 18 deputies. What is the current situation?
We are waiting to see what the plenary decides, as it is sovereign. All decisions, including those of the Supreme Court, will be debated by the plenary, who will decide who should stay and who should go in conformance with legislative procedure. But given the priorities that we have, we cannot stop everything to look at that particular case.