Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What happened in Kingakati?

On May 29, President Kabila summoned the members of his ruling AMP coalition to his Kingakati ranch outside of Kinshasa. The reason: He wanted to know what he should make of a new, dissident faction within the AMP.

As mentioned here before, the new faction was called Liberal and Patriotic Center (CLP) and was led by four stalwarts of Congolese politics:
  • Jose Endundo, (Equateur) the minister of environment and one of the most important businessmen in the capital during Mobutu's times;
  • Mbusa Nyamwisi, (North Kivu) the minister of decentralization and the former head of the RCD-ML rebellion;
  • Olivier Kamitatu, (Bandundu) the minister of planning and he former #2 of the MLC rebellion;
  • Modeste Bahati, (South Kivu) the former treasurer of the national assembly.
Not only are the four powerful and well-known, but they just so happen be representative of the various corners of the country, in itself a red flag for opposition-watchers.

The CLP wrung their collective hands, saying that they were just complaining about the Prime Minister Muzito's pathetic management of the country. Muzito's PALU party has a fair share of ministries in government and some in Kabila's circle suggested that they were trying to kick PALU out of the presidential coalition and take their share of the pie. According to others, this was a move to prepare for next year's elections.

According to various sources, including people who participated in the meeting as well as diplomats, Kabila was furious. He compared the CLP to "the generals in Madagascar" who were involved on a coup d'etat. He went on to say: "If you were in the army, we would execute you. Fortunately, we don't execute people in the Congo anymore." More reasonably, he said that if they had problems with the AMP, they should not wash their dirty linen in public, but take it up internally.

The CLP quickly backed down. Within a few days, they sent Kabila a letter, saying they were abandoning their initiative. (For more on this, see Alex Engwete's blog and the RFI report.)

Next at the Kingakati meeting, Kabila dealt with the MPs from South Kivu. Their affront had been to write a letter to the Prime Minister, complaining about the violence in South Kivu and their marginalization on the national scene (worth reading to get an idea of how people in Bukavu feel). Kabila had some harsh words from them, as well, to the point where the MPs didn't stay on after the meeting for the customary cocktail.

Why is all of this important? Because, with Chebeya's death, Kabila probably reached his nadir. His quick suspension of General John Numbi is indicative of what many in Kinshasa are gossiping about these days: that some people around Kabila are deeply unhappy and may even be looking for alternatives. Around the same time as the meeting, a rumor began that a bunch of tracts had been dumped at Kabila's ranch, announcing his impending assassination. A friend in government suggested that Numbi's arrest had come at just the right time - the general had taken on too much influence and was a danger to Kabila.

I want to emphasize: these are RUMORS, and the Congo is the world capital of these. But the mood in Kinshasa is very bad.

Kabila is currently on a trip to the Kivus, his former electoral base. Instead of the thick crowds that flocked to see him in Bukavu several years ago, there was no public reception. Here is a description of his day by a local observer:
He arrived incognito on Sunday, June 6 around 1500. On Monday, the Rais (Kabila) walked around town during the morning, entering the Beauté supermarket and the Braf grocery, where he bought some cheese and chatted with the owner Kibala. He walked on foot from the governor's office to the Beauté (around 15 minutes). In the evening, he hosted a dinner for the provincial members of the AMP between 1830 and 2130. He used this occasion to express his support for Marcellin Chisambo as candidate for governor. On Tuesday, June 8 he left for Goma.

During this whole time in Bukavu, he was never surrounded by a crowd.

1 comment:

Elisabeth said...

We never really realized that he was here on the Muhumba side of town. Such a very different feel from last year when people lined the street for his walk up the hill from Feu Rouge (or was that two years ago now?). This time there were rumors about him coming beforehand, but no one was sure whether he actually would. Everyone guessed he was only coming to support his candidate, and people are definitely unhappy about the results. I find it humorous that he visited la Beauté and Braf on foot without any crowd--how slighted he must have felt!

Also, have you heard or seen any interesting effects of the "pacte de dédoublement" in Kin? Things have gotten interesting lately with the DGI/DPI here...

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