DR Congo

DR Congo: President urges rebel groups to become political parties

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KINSHASA, 27 January (IRIN) - President Joseph Kabila has urged rebel movements to stop fighting and join the democratic process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) by transforming themselves into political parties.
He made the appeal on 26 January - the second anniversary of his coming to power - before parliamentarians in the southeastern city of Lubumbashi. He said the political transformation of rebel movements was the best way to meet the expectations of the Congolese people.

His government, he said, wanted to demonstrates its "good intentions" to walk along the road to democracy, abide by the peace accord, and share power with all the protagonists of the DRC crisis who signed the Pretoria accord on 17 December, in South Africa.

Kabila outlined the country's socioeconomic position since he assumed power. He said that with the help of the Bretton Woods institutions - which have re-engaged with the country after a 10-year lapse - his administration had slashed inflation from 511 percent in 2000 to 15 percent in 2002. He also said he had instructed his government to waive taxes for one year on all imports of agricultural machinery and inputs, adding that his government had made efforts to bring electricity to much of the country. Kabila promised that 2003 would be dedicated to cleaning up the environment, the administration and industry.

The speech also included references to street children, who are increasingly being accused of witchcraft. The UN Children's Fund estimates there are 15,000 street children in Kinshasa, the capital, most of whom assumed this role after being accused by their parents of engaging in witchcraft and driven out of their homes. "This is purely a violation of children's rights, which, in all human conscience, we must condemn," Kabila said. "I ask magistrates to defend the rights of children and apply the law rigorously in this matter."

Joseph Kabila was sworn in as president 21 January 2001, five days after his father, Laurent-Desire Kabila, was shot dead by a bodyguard.

[ENDS]

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