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President Kabila to Meet All DRC Governors

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VOA News - August 18, 2009

Joseph Kabila

Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila is scheduled to hold discussions with governors across the country as part of a decentralization program.

Kinshasa admits, however, that the decentralization program faces an enormous challenge.  

Information minister Lambert Mende said Monday that President Kabila is determined to implement the constitutional provision on decentralization.

"President Kabila is to meet governors, and I think the issue on the agenda is about decentralization. You know that we are having a very, very tough challenge of decentralizing this country sending more power to the countryside," Mende said.

He said Kinshasa expects the governors to help with the decentralization efforts.

"These governors are the ones really to help in achieving these goals. So we are meeting with them and the president will discuss with them how to achieve the dispatching of public assets between the central state and the provinces and between the provinces and the local administration," he said.

Mende said the government wants to empower ordinary Congolese.

"This is really a key issue for succeeding in democratizing our society because we need really people to feel that they are in charge of managing their lives," Mende said.

He said the decentralization plan is enshrined in the Congolese constitution.

"It is our constitution that is telling us that we have to decentralize. The president is just working to apply what is written in the constitution and the people have chosen that constitution, they have voted for it," he said.

Mende said ordinary Congolese are participating in the decentralization program.

"Now we are also choosing the local members of the provisional parliament. They are preparing to choose the local administration and the local council. So, people are participating. It is now the duty of the government to give them means and ways of succeeding," Mende said.

Last week, an armed group, Mai Mai reportedly attacked the country's largest tin mine, Bisie, killing at least 16 miners and injuring several others.

Authorities in the restive North Kiviu capital, Goma said members of the group retreated with looted mineral ores, money and mining equipment.

Mende said the government has deployed security forces to guard tin mining areas in North Kivu's Walikale district following the militia attack.

"The prime minister and the mines minister went to the area to visit and to take some major measures to avoid a repetition of these kinds of criminals to be moving in the region," Mende said.

He said Kinshasa is would ensure those involved in the killings are punished.

"We have already identified the man who is responsible for these killings. He is a fellow Congolese; he is a former Mai Mai, he was implicated in the move to reintegrate all the armed groups within the national army, but he showed reluctance and he is refusing to join the national army and has now gone up to committing such a crime," he said.

Mende said a warrant has been issued for the arrest of the group's leader for allegedly carrying out the killings.


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