Supreme Court to be relocated after fire

The offices of the Supreme Court of the Democratic Republic of Congo, partly damaged by fire, will be relocated to different parts of the capital, Kinshasa, or elsewhere in the country, Vice-President Azarias Ruberwa said on Wednesday after inspecting the facility.

"The first task will be the decentralisation of the Supreme Court because, from what I have seen of the offices of the first president and the court's clerks, work can no longer be carried out there," Ruberwa said.

Some of the court's offices were burnt when riot police moved to disperse supporters of presidential contender Jean-Pierre Bemba, who were demanding entry into the building. The supporters wanted to sit at a hearing of an electoral fraud complaint filed by Bemba's coalition of political parties and individuals, contesting provisional poll results that gave him 42 percent of the votes and his rival and incumbent Joseph Kabila 58 percent.

Ruberwa is one of the country's four vice-presidents, under a transitional arrangement to democracy that ends with the Supreme Court's endorsement of the provisional results. He is in charge of the government's Committee for Political Affairs, Defence and Safety of Government. During his inspection of the court he was told that electoral documents had been burnt. These included documents on the country’s constitutional referendum and the first-round presidential poll. However, these did not include documents being reviewed by the court on electoral fraud claims during the second-round presidential poll of 29 October.

He promised to punish those responsible for the fire. About one-third of the building was set alight.

ei/oss/mw

[Countdown in the Congo]