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Kabila's Election Speech Leads to Judges' Strike

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Congo News Agency - September 20, 2011
Judges protest in front of the Prime Minister's office on Auguest 30, 2011
Judges protest in front of the Prime Minister's office on August 30, 2011 | Enlarge
Judges across the country say they will remain on strike until they start getting paid the $1,600 President Joseph Kabila claimed they earn each month in his speech to the nation last Wednesday.

The judges say they were stunned to hear President Kabila tout their seemingly high salary as one of his accomplishments during the last five years.

The outcry was followed by a call to strike from their unions, which claim that most judges are paid far less than what the president said.

Facing a rebellion from the judicial branch, and already under attack from the opposition accusing him of misrepresenting his record, President Kabila instructed his cabinet over the weekend to sort out the mess created by his speech.

A meeting was convened on Saturday between members of the president’s cabinet, government ministers, the First President of the Supreme Court, the Attorney General, and representatives of the judges’ unions.

The government issued a statement after the meeting saying that an agreement had been reached and judges will start getting paid the $1,600 in October.

“All judges are called to remain calm and contact their unions so they can resume work,” the statement said.

The government all but made it sound as if the unions had agreed to instruct their members to end the strike.

While one of the unions at the meeting called on its members to resume work on Monday, Synamac, a leading union representing judges across the country, said it never agreed to end the strike.

"The strike is maintained. We asked to be paid what the president said. A head of state does not lie,” the president of Synamac, Nsambayi Mutende, said.

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