In-depth: The death of Laurent Desire Kabila
DRC: President Joseph Kabila's Speech on Day of Inauguration
Joseph Kabila - "Political problems of prime importance must find their solutions within the framework of inter-Congolese dialogue"
NAIROBI, 17 January 2001 (IRIN) - In his first address to the nation, President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) paid tribute to his assassinated father and pledged to honour his father's legacy. He demanded the immediate withdrawal of the Rwandan, Ugandan and Burundi troops from Congolese territory, and undertook to pursue peace by military, political and diplomatic means. Speaking a few hours after taking his oath of office, he said he would work to revive the 1999 Lusaka Accord and bring back to the Great Lakes Region, and he urged the United Nations to deploy its forces in the DRC. He also said he would introduce "profound changes" into all sectors of national life.
The following is the text of Kabila's speech, broadcast by Congolese TV from Kinshasa on 26 January; subheadings inserted editorially:
Congolese men and women, dear fellow countrymen. Tragic circumstances have led to the unexpected death of the president of the republic, head of state, and head of government, Mzee Laurent-Desire Kabila. These circumstances leave uncompleted the very exalting task of reconstruction and consolidation of the Congolese nation. The sordid assassination of the head of state has led to the duties of president to be bestowed upon me at a time when the nation, torn by war, still needed the services of the distinguished departed.
The head of state was the architect of the nation's liberation, the reawakening of its national conscience as well the recovered pride and dignity. A visionary and a forerunner, a statesman of great calibre, Mzee Laurent Desire Kabila constantly devoted all his life, without dishonest compromise, to the struggle for the triumph of the sacred values of freedom, justice, equality of citizens, in a united, independent and sovereign Congo.
And what is more is that it is because of the safeguard of these essential values that President Mzee Laurent Desire Kabila paid the highest price, that is the supreme sacrifice, the sacrifice of his life, at this time of the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Patrice Emery Lumumba, our national hero.
As head of state, he ensured that decisions regarding the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC] are made by Congolese themselves, for the interest of the nation and without foreign interference. He ruled this country by relying essentially on its resources, both human and natural. In this regard, it must be noted that the president of the Republic, Mzee Laurent Desire Kabila, is among the rare leaders in the world's contemporary history to have exercised power for more than three years without contracting any foreign debt at the expense of the state and without enriching himself.
The head of state, Laurent Desire-Kabila, always asked the Congolese people to take care of themselves. An austere and discreet man, simple, humble and friendly, a man of large generosity, he never wanted to involve the members of his family in the management of state affairs. Thus, until his death, he has preferred that the members of his family live as simple citizens. It is for all these reasons that the people paid such a glowing tribute to him. I assure the Congolese people that a judicial investigation is already open so that light is shed on the circumstances of the assassination of the distinguished departed.
Congolese men and women, dear fellow countrymen, now that the Republican institutions have bestowed the presidency on me, I accept taking on this duty, with responsibility, fidelity and love for the fatherland, by pursuing a policy of opening up towards Africa and the world, and by devoting myself to making profound changes in all sectors of national life. At this time when all eyes are turned on the DRC, at this time when the sons and daughters of the nation are asking questions on the country's future, I want to make it a point to stress that we can no longer make mistakes. Together, without exception, we must arm ourselves with courage, determination and the spirit of sacrifice, to confront and overcome the current challenges that are both numerous and complex.
Withdrawal of Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda
Among these challenges, I would like to mention in the first place that of establishing peace and consolidating national cohesion, in a nation torn apart by an unacceptable war of aggression that has lasted more than two years. These challenges rest mainly on the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the aggressor states, namely Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda.
This is how we are going to work for a policy that gives preference to dialogue and reconciliation. To achieve this, we call on our neighbours and brothers to return to better sentiments of good neighbourliness, of peaceful settlement of disputes, of fruitful cooperation and of unity to pursue the country's reconstruction and progress in Central Africa.
In this direction, in agreement and in consultation with the allied countries that are supporting us in facing up to this aggression, we will examine ways and means to revive the Lusaka Accord so that it can lead not only to an effective cease-fire, but also bring back peace to the Great Lakes Region. This will be done while taking into consideration all the resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council, while preserving the fundamental attributes of the republic, namely, independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and the country's unity.
Second, there is the challenge for the normalization of democratic life as the president of the republic, Mzee Laurent Desire Kabila, had himself proposed. It aims at strengthening the rule of law, consolidating democracy and good governance, guaranteeing human rights and justice, so that all Congolese men and women, as well as all foreigners welcomed on our soil, can - with respect to the law - enjoy freedom, equality, dignity, protection for themselves and for their goods.
I want to make a point of stating that I will devote all my strength to ensure that this beautiful and great country recovers peace and unity. It is in this way that we can better prepare for future elections, in particular, the organization of free and fair elections throughout the DRC. The DRCongo once again renews its commitment to respecting fundamental rights as well as the individual and public freedoms as established by international instruments. The same holds for the charters of the UN, the OAU [Organization of African Unity] and the Southern African Development Community [SADC]. As far as I am concerned, I will spare no efforts in ensuring that other states also respect the same instruments vis-a-vis the DRC.
"More political openness for national reconstruction"
There is also the challenge of national reconstruction in all fields because there is the need to pursue the programme and the efforts being made by the Public Salvation Government under the high leadership of Mzee Laurent-Desire Kabila since the 17 May 1997 liberation. This programme and efforts have, unfortunately, been slowed down by the aggression war. This war of aggression, with its deplorable consequences on the national economy, which is already in ruins under the 2nd Republic, has increased our people's poverty. At the start of this 21st Century, there is the need to reconstruct a country that should be more beautiful than before, as stated in our national anthem. To achieve this goal, we need everyone's energy and all hands. No hand is unnecessary.
|I accept taking on this duty, with responsibility, fidelity and love for the fatherland, by pursuing a policy of opening up towards Africa and the world, and by devoting myself to making profound changes in all sectors of national life
Congolese men and women, dear fellow countrymen, at the political and institutional level, the current domestic situation demands more political openness for national reconstruction. To this end, within the spirit and the orientation of the president of the republic, Mzee Laurent Desire Kabila, I pledge to pursue this openness so that all political actors can exercise their rights with respect for the rules and regulations.
Political problems of prime importance must find their solutions within the framework of inter-Congolese dialogue. In this perspective, I call on all the political actors as well as members of the civil society to join without hesitation the preparative efforts for the success of this dialogue, namely pursuing efforts to ensure the conclusion of the Libreville process.
At the level of the judiciary, I intend to bring all the organs and services of the state to work with respect for the laws so as to ensure that judicial security becomes a reality. The reform of military justice will be carried out to its conclusion. Henceforth, the military court will take charge of offences relating to the code and regulations of military justice. I pledge that the government, more than ever before, will guarantee the safety of people and goods throughout the Congolese territory. The government will provide qualitative education and health care that are accessible to all.
Liberalizing of economy
Indeed, the Congolese economy is characterized by a strong fall in the level of business. To revive this economy and thus, create wealth to fight poverty, I intend to liberalize economic activities, first, by liberalizing the goods and services market in the diamond sector and the currency exchange sector. Second, I will authorize the concomitant free movement of foreign currencies and the Congolese franc.
Third, I will propose a new mining code and a new investment code. Concerning relations between the government and the economic operators, a framework for exchange of views will be set up so as to bring about a frank and sincere dialogue, with strict respect for the existing laws because Congo wants to be a country that respects the rule of law. In support of our own efforts, I am asking the international financial community to help us marshal financial, technical and human resources to speed up our programme of national reconstruction.
Dear compatriots, at the democratic level, the DRC intends to play a more active role in international affairs. In the face of the proliferation of wars, the aggravation of poverty and globalization, the DRC intends to make a special contribution towards finding adequate solutions together with the rest of the world.
Concerning the African continent, I would like to make an emotional appeal for greater solidarity. Africa is, indeed, dying. I invite, therefore, the brotherly peoples of Africa to make the OAU more dynamic, in the spirit of the founding fathers. As Mzee Laurent-Desire Kabila, a great pan-Africanist, used to say, we should renew with the redeeming flame of Nkrumah and Lumumba. The DRC is physically at geostrategic centre of Africa and intends to play a role of prime importance in the renewal of the pan-African organization.
Concerning the SADC, the DRC appeals for greater integration and will play a more active role in this organization, from which it expects unconditional moral and economic support. The DRC is exhorting its peers in the common market for Eastern and Southern Africa to allow it a valuable representation in the structures of the organization. It is also asking for the materialization and implementation of sector projects, which it has submitted to this organization. Regarding the peace process in Burundi, the DRC is making a greater contribution to the success of President Mandela's mediation, as Mzee Laurent Desire Kabila initiated recently in Libreville.
Relations with EU, USA, Russia, Asia
Faithful to the line of conduct of Mzee Laurent-Desire Kabila and desirous to preserve our political independence, I am firmly resolved to continue the improvement of cooperation with our main partners of the European Union. I shall strive to bind the wounds caused by misunderstanding, because I am confident that the EU has a role to play in DRC's development.
I am thinking especially of France, to which I address my gratitude on behalf of the Congolese people, for its numerous efforts in the Security Council to find a peaceful solution to our country's crisis. I affirm my preparedness and determination to pursue the improvement of our multi-sector bilateral relations I am also thinking of Belgium, with which the DRC shares historical ties. I shall see to the development of friendly relations of understanding and entente for a more fruitful cooperation.
Concerning relations with the United States, I would like to state without beating about the bush that there had been periods of mutual misunderstanding with the former administration. The DRCongo intends to normalize bilateral relations with the new administration, based on mutual respect and determination for progress for our two peoples. I salute the friendly relations between my country and the People's Republic of China, Russia, and other Asian countries, and I intend to strengthen them.
Dear compatriots, I salute and thank the Congolese people, this great and dignified people, who have been able to surmount numerous tests. I congratulate them for the courage and serenity they demonstrated during the difficult and painful moments of our nation.
I cannot fail to thank the constituent and legislative assembly, the transition parliament, for taking major political and historic actions in these difficult times. I cite, in particular, the elevation of President Laurent-Desire Kabila to the rank of national hero and for investing in me the confidence of the people.
Army and police
I also wish to congratulate and thank the Public Salvation Government for ensuring continuity of state affairs administration in these tragic hours. I am thinking, in particular, of the Congolese Armed Forces, which are present in various forms, the national police, and all the security forces. I encourage them to carry out their patriotic duties and observe the will that Mzee Laurent-Desire Kabila bequeathed them. I am committed to transforming them into a modern army and police, strong, well-equipped, respectable, and respectful of the rights of all and capable of defending the nation in all circumstances.
I salute and thank the People's Power Committees, the Self-Defence Forces, and the territorial forces for their remarkable contribution towards maintaining order, especially, in these difficult times.
Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia
I say thank you to the Congolese nation, to the SADC members, particularly Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia, as well as other friendly countries, which have always been by our side, desirous to help us find ways of putting an end to the war of aggression and securing the withdrawal of the regular armies of Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi from Congolese soil.
I seize the occasion to express my gratitude to the OAU for the efforts it has been making towards finding a negotiated political solution to the crisis. I solemnly invite them to work even harder for an efficient implementation and facilitation of the inter-Congolese dialogue.
Calls on UN to send in troops
I noted with satisfaction the adoption by the UN Security Council on 14 September [December] 2000, of Resolution 1332, explicitly condemning Rwanda and Uganda and demanding the withdrawal of their forces from Congolese territory.
I dare believe that the Security Council will honour its undertakings by rapidly deploying its forces in accordance with the above-mentioned resolution, to implement the disengagement plan subsequently adopted in Harare.
Furthermore, I reiterate the DRC's commitment to collaborate closely with the UN Observation Mission in Congo so as to enable it to discharge its mandate efficiently, notably with regard to the urgent deployment of its forces on Congolese territory with a view to the re-establishment of peace.
Dear compatriots, in the face of a nation in danger, torn apart, bruised, victim of all sorts of covetousness and violence, I am appealing for all its sons to unite, wherever they are. I am calling on the armed forces, the national police, the security forces and all the active forces to resist and defend the national territory.
I am also calling on politicians, churches, workers, Congolese women, the youth, friendly countries, and foreigners who have chosen to live with us to take part in the building of a new peaceful and prosperous DRC, with the fellowship and reconciliation of all.
Message for those "in the occupied territories"
Brothers and sisters living in the occupied territories, I salute your lofty spirit of sacrifice and your attachment to the nation. I convey to you our solidarity with the struggle you are waging in difficult conditions for the liberation of our country. My military, political and diplomatic efforts will be directed towards your total liberation from the forces of aggression.
As I accede to the highest office of the state, I make a solemn and emotional appeal to Congolese youth to join me in defending the vital interests of the nation and to assume our destiny.
Dear compatriots, to conclude my address, I appeal for unity, dialogue and confidence in the future. The calling of the army I symbolize is not to seize power, but the responsibility of guaranteeing stability and ensuring the nation's territorial integrity Once peace is achieved and territorial integrity restored, my action will consist of preparing free and transparent elections, so that the people themselves will choose a leader who will preside over this country's destiny.
Our country is going through one of the most painful crises of its history, but I think we can all together surmount the crisis, because our enemies have not succeeded in breaking the essential thing - our courage, our love for our country, for the unity of this great Congo, which Lumumba led to independence, and for which Mzee Laurent-Desire Kabila struggled until his tragic death. Men may disappear or pass away, but we shall together transmit this flame to our children. God bless and protect the Republic of Congo.
Source: RTNC TV, Kinshasa, in French 1955 gmt 26 Jan 01 BBC Mon AF1 AfPol dm