Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FRANCE IN FOCUS

French education: Reinventing the idea of school

Read more

FRENCH CONNECTIONS

Frogs legs and brains? The French food hard to stomach

Read more

#TECH 24

Station F: Putting Paris on the global tech map

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Davos 2017: 'I believe in the power of entrepreneurs to change the world'

Read more

#THE 51%

Equality in the boardroom: French law requires large firms to have 40% women on boards

Read more

FASHION

Men's fashion: Winter 2017/2018 collections shake up gender barriers

Read more

ENCORE!

Turkish writer Aslı Erdoğan speaks out about her time behind bars

Read more

REVISITED

Video: Threat of economic crisis still looms in Zimbabwe

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

DAVOS 2017: Has the bubble burst?

Read more

Africa

Kamerhe's resignation makes room for Sarkozy's speech

Text by Thomas HUBERT , in Kinshasa

Latest update : 2009-03-26

DR Congo's National Assembly chairman, Vital Kamerhe (pictured), has resigned, ending a political crisis that had been plaguing the parliament for two months. Nicolas Sarkozy, due to visit Kinshasa on Thursday, can now address the National Assembly.

The Democratic Republic of Congo's National Assembly will play host to Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday, but its chairman will not be there to hear the French president's speech on the African Great Lakes region.

Vital Kamerhe resigned on Wednesday after the majority loyal to President Joseph Kabila disowned him – just in time to calm things down in the assembly before Sarkozy gets there.

Kamerhe had dared to criticise the agreement struck during the parliamentary recess in January by Kabila and the Rwandan government to conduct joint military operations in eastern DRC.

“My political family judged that I had committed a crime of lèse-majesté,” the chairman of the National Assembly told parliamentarians and members of the public made edgy by a three-hour wait.

Assembly member Ernest Jean-Louis Kyaviro, who supports the presidential majority, initiated a petition to obtain a parliamentary debate on military operations in the east of the country. He kept his job.

“We want to be able to discuss issues that concern the Congolese people in the National Assembly without it being regarded as heresy,” he said Wednesday.

While the details of the drama's final act were being decided backstage, crowds filled a house that looks every bit like a theatre, with a stage framed by red velvet curtains, terraced seats and a balcony.

The prospect of intense conflict at the top levels of the state worried the defenders of DR Congo's young and fragile democracy. Kamerhe finally chose to resign voluntarily, without a debate in parliament.

“It was the wise way to go,” said a relieved William Wenga Bumba, secretary of the Kinshasa section of the National Nework of Human Rights, a nongovernmental organisation.

The chairman of the National Assembly made a point of minimising the differences between himself and Kabila and left the house under his fellow parliamentarian's loud applause. Kinshasa's newspapers already predict that Kamerhe's name will be heard again.

Now that an open crisis has been averted, the way is clear for Sarkozy to address an “academic” session of parliament regrouping members of both houses on Thursday.

Yet as soon as he leaves, hard questions will resurface on the agenda.

Date created : 2009-03-25

COMMENT(S)