Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

Gaza: A Truce At All Costs?

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Central African Republic: Brazzaville ceasefire talks deliver fragile deal

Read more

FOCUS

Sluggish tourist season in Crimea

Read more

ENCORE!

Bartabas : Mixing Christ with Spanish music and dancing horses

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Shifts in the propaganda war waged between Israelis and Palestinians

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French MPs face quandary in pro-Palestinian rallies

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Yezid Sayigh, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut

Read more

#TECH 24

Mind the Gender Gap : getting more women into the tech sector

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Bolivian children: heading to work aged 10

Read more

  • France sending military unit to located Algerian plane crash site

    Read more

  • France says missing Algerian plane 'probably crashed'

    Read more

  • Deadly strike on UN shelter in Gaza Strip

    Read more

  • Pope meets with Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to death for apostasy

    Read more

  • Algerian jet vanishes: 'We should eliminate the missile hypothesis'

    Read more

  • Italy’s Nibali cruises to easy victory in 18th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • Iraqi parliament elects moderate Kurd as president

    Read more

  • US, European aviation agencies lift travel restrictions to Tel Aviv

    Read more

  • No end to fighting until Israel ends Gaza blockade, Hamas says

    Read more

  • Two foreign women shot dead in western Afghanistan

    Read more

  • At least 60 killed in attack on prison convoy near Baghdad

    Read more

  • Cycling is ‘winning the war on doping,’ says expert

    Read more

  • Ceasefire agreed for Central African Republic

    Read more

  • Can Jew-kissing-Arab selfie give peace a viral chance?

    Read more

  • Botched Arizona execution takes nearly two hours

    Read more

Africa

Sarkozy kicks off African tour in DR Congo

Video by Rachel MARUSAK , Damien COQUET

Text by Thomas HUBERT

Latest update : 2009-03-26

Sarkozy arrived in the DRC capital of Kinshasa on Thursday, starting a tour devoted to building a new Franco-African relationship. He will address the National Assembly, a day after its chairman Vital Kamerhe resigned.

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 : 2009-03-26

COMMENT(S)