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Congo (Kinshasa): Civil Society Statement
Congo (Kinshasa): Civil Society Statement
Date distributed (ymd): 970705
Document reposted by APIC
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Final Declaration of the Meeting of the Civil Society of the Democratic
Republic of Congo
Note: Unofficial translation from French by APIC. For more information
or to obtain the original French document please contact one of the three
Conseil National des Organisations
non-Gouvernmentales de Developpement
2/A3 Avenue Shaba
Kinshasa-Gombe, Rep. Democratique du Congo
Contact: Baudouin Hamuli
5, rte. des Morillons
1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
Tel: 41 22 788 85 86
Fax: 41 22 788 85 90
Contacts: Hassan Ba, Germain Malu
International Human Rights Law Group
1601 Connecticut Ave., NW #700
Washington, DC 20009
Contacts: Marie-Elena John Smith, Pascal Kambale
The Civil Society of the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the support
of CNONGD (National Council of Non-Governmental Development Organizations,
Synergies Africa and the International Human Rights Law Group, met from
June 16-20 at the Nganda Center on the theme of the "Reconstruction
and Democratization of the Congo."
These meetings are taking place at a particularly important historical
moment for the Congolese people and they are developing in a spirit of
tolerance, openness, dialogue and a constructiveness. Civil society first
concentrated on a analysis of the current situation and has formulated
general and specific recommendations.
I.1. The Legacy of the Years of Dictatorship
The catastrophic current situation that the Congolese people are living
is the legacy of thirty-two years of dictatorship and pillage of the nation's
resources and the absence of a state of law. The consequences of this sad
situation are felt at all levels and in all sectors of activity of national
- the decay or non-existence of basic public infrastructure (roads, bridges,
public buildings, factories, etc.)
- disarticulation of the economic and financial system
- absence of policies or infrastructures of communication, training,
environmental protection and promotion of health and of social well-being
of women and men
- corruption and deficiencies of administration
- systematic violation of human rights leading to generalized insecurity
among the population
- social insecurity for all strata of the population (unemployment)
- exacerbation of inter-ethnic tensions by political manipulation and
the existence of deceptive and incoherent legislation
I.2 The war and the transition
The war that our country lived through was experienced at first by the
people as liberation and was met with great enthusiasm. Unhappily it has
also been accompanied by great suffering for the people (notably for refugees
and the displaced).
Today Congolese feel two contradictory sentiments with respect to this
situation: hope and fear. The notes of hope concern the departure or the
fall of the dictatorial regime, which constitutes a window of opportunity
for the changes so long awaited; they also concern the improvement of security
in certain cases, for example in the immigration service.
Nevertheless, civil society has lifted up many fears and worries with
respect to safeguarding national and social peace, safeguarding fundamental
freedoms and finally safeguarding the democratic process.
Concerning national and social peace, the following concerns are preeminent:
- tense political climate linked to the absence of dialogue among the
different forces, the continuation if not aggravation of inter-ethnic antagonism,
the flow of arms, nonsettlement of the refugee question
- the question of the army remains a major worry, notably with respect
to problems of discipline, break-up of the military command, absence of
clarification of the relationship between the Alliance and the State.
- and social peace could be threatened if wages continue not to be paid.
With respect to basic freedoms, growing violations of personal rights
(for example, summary and extra-judicial execution) and of basic freedoms
of association, opinion and expression, have been noted.
Concerning the democratic process, there is concern about the lack of
a clear separation between the army on the one hand and justice and police
on the other, as well as the absence of a constitutional framework that
could serve as the starting point and guide for governmental action during
the transition period.
II. Principles and Guidelines for Action
Civil society should work in this particularly sensitive context by
remaining faithful to the principle of independence, of responsibility,
and by affirming the necessity of a constructive dialogue with the authorities.
Civil society is primarily concerned with the following five needs:
- need to safeguard and to reinforce a state of law as condition for
the participation of citizens, for the maintenance of peace and for development
- need to focus reconstruction activity on development of the human capital
which Congo has, putting particular stress on training, education, promotion
of social welfare and information
- need to conceive and put in place a process of decentralization of
public power so as to favor grassroots participation in the current transition
phase and to reinforce local administration
- need to manage public property with transparency and equity
- need to address the problems of the country with an eye to Panafrican
and regional integration.
Preliminary remarks: In order to involve the grassroots in the process
of reconstruction, civil society suggests holding provincial reconstruction
conferences involving local authorities, that can serve as opportunities
for dialogue among the government, the people and civil society.
1. Urgently promote a large campaign of civic education for citizens
stressing the positive values of the Congolese people against intolerance,
for peace and inter-regional consciousness. This campaign should be a concerted
action among all the active forces of the country.
2. Reconstruct basic public infrastructure: roads, bridges, schools,
3. Promote new policies of health, education, and environmental protection
in both urban and rural milieu.
4. Reinforce and organize systems of social development.
5. Define food strategies for urban centers that do not damage the interests
of rural development.
6. Define a regulatory and ethical code for media and religious groups
in order to protect citizens and to defend freedom of expression.
7. Reform the Congolese administration by rehabilitating public office,
defining the role and the benefits of ministerial offices and encouraging
a wage policy based on merit.
8. Concerning state property, the selection of managers should be based
on competence. An inventory of government-owned real estate should be compiled,
and a juridical procedure established to regain property sold off illegitimately.
9. On the financial and economic level, it is urgently necessary to
restore the banking system, to encourage and strengthen small and middle-level
businesses (in access to credit) and to aid base communities in gaining
access to credit.
10. Promote the defense of consumer rights.
11. Urgently put in place a program of youth mobilization by creation
of a system to involve them in public works of reconstruction.
12. On the humanitarian level, steps should be taken to encourage the
return of refugees and to aid displaced Congolese.
13. Promote women as essential agents of the processes of innovation
and change in the Congo.
14. Struggle against social exclusion by rehabilitating vulnerable children
and putting in place a national commission on disability.
15. Promote a new security policy:
* dispel the existing confusion between the ADFL (Alliance of Democratic
Forces for the Liberation of Congo) and the security forces, between the
army on one hand and police and justice on the other; in other words, move
progressively from a state of "exception" to a state of law
* put in place a truly national army within the framework of a new defense
* regularize payment for soldiers and get control over the troops
* restore military inspection services
* promote training in human rights and in techniques of maintaining
order within the armed forces and security forces
* create a national police
* put in place a program to demobilize under-age soldiers
* design and implement a policy of retraining of the soldiers of the
former Zairian army, taking into account the proven needs of national security.
16. Reinforce a state of law in the Democratic Republic of the Congo:
* identify and sanction violations of human rights
* reinforce and encourage the work of associations for the defense of
* reform the judicial system in order to give it independence, social
credibility and accountability.
17. Promote good governance:
- encourage transparency in relations between state officials and the
public, in encouraging, for example, the declaration of income before taking
- put in place an inspection service in the executive during the transition
phase along lines to be defined
- on the electoral level, it is necessary to have a gradual process with
local, legislative and presidential elections; these elections should be
well prepared with an electoral census, putting in pace of a democratic
electoral code, the creation of an independent national electoral commission
and the promotion of a campaign of electoral education.
18. The financing of reconstruction:
* Financing should be both internal and external. Multinational companies
should carry out their social obligations by paying dues to local communities
within which they are located. In addition, incentives should be established
by the government to attract private investors within the framework of
a genuinely attractive investment code.
* It is time to put in place a transparent fiscal policy, particularly
with respect to state income. This is necessary in order to break with
a well-established practice of evasion by certain private parties of their
fiscal obligations to the state. It would be prudent to design a fiscal
policy at two levels, both local and national, in order to permit local
communities to benefit directly from a portion of state income.
* It is urgent to begin a process of recovery of stolen property abroad
by mobilizing both Congolese and non-Congolese professional resources.
In this respect, our counterpart organizations in the West should demand
that their governments take appropriate measures toward restoring the stolen
* Renegotiation of Congo's foreign debt should be on the immediate agenda,
and here too the role of our partner organizations is fundamental.
19. Steps should be taken to put in place local and national conflict-resolution
mechanisms, including a national emergency plan. It would also be wise
to take into account traditional conflict resolution mechanisms, including
the role of traditional chiefs.
Other measures include naming a national mediator, getting under way
a national program of peace education in the schools, encouraging multi-ethnic
participation in NGOs, and ensuring that those responsible for words or
deeds inciting hatred and genocide are punished.
IV. Specific Recommendations
Civil society will take in the coming weeks all necessary initiatives
to encourage a dialogue among political forces and the government in order
to decrease tension in the current situation, to maintain social peace
and to prevent conflicts.
Civil society hopes that a permanent arrangement for coordination between
it and the government will be put in place in order to reflect in a constructive
way on issues concerning the future of the nation.
With respect to dialogue between communities, civil society will take
initiatives along several lines:
- organization of dialogue meetings among base communities in Kivu
- contribution to the process of an systematic census of citizens in
order to modify the nationality code
- promote deep reflection on the origins of the conflicts between Katangans
Those here assembled recommend the immediate organization of provincial
reconstruction conferences initiated by civil society in cooperation with
the government. In the course of these conferences, delegates will also
be designated to constitute at the national level a follow-up committee
with the responsibility of coordinating the efforts of civil society and
of maintaining dialogue with the central authorities.
This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa
Policy Information Center (APIC), the educational affiliate of the Washington
Office on Africa. APIC's primary objective is to widen the policy debate
in the United States around African issues and the U.S. role in Africa,
by concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant information and
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