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Some Congolese Welcome Prime Minister's Resignation

VOA News - September 26, 2008

Clottey Interview With VOA'S Jack Kahora - Download (MP3) audio clip
Clottey Interview With VOA'S Jack Kahora - Listen (MP3) audio clip

Critics of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Joseph Kabila's government have welcomed with open arms yesterday' (Thursday) resignation of Prime Minister Antoine Gizenga. Prime Minister Gizenga tendered his resignation to President Kabila claiming his age and health make it impossible for him to effectively perform his duties. But his critics say he has failed to revive the country's faltering economy and end violent clashes between the army and rebels.

Some observers say Gizenga attained his position as a political reward for reportedly instructing his opposition Unified Lumumbist Party (PALU) to back Kabila in the 2006 presidential run-off vote. Jack Kahora is the VOA correspondent. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from North Kivu's capital, Goma that Prime Minster Gizenga disappointed a lot of Congolese.

"Apart from those people from Gizenga's political party, most people are very happy with his decision because they have been waiting for this decision for a very long time. This is because since Gizenga was appointed as a prime minister there is nothing that has changed whereas most of the people were really hopeful he would deliver. They were expecting to see the social life changing positively they were expecting security to being established in the country so that people can move freely and have their lives back and deal with business, but this was not the case," Kahora said.

He said the former prime minister did not live up to his billing.

"So, he was a total disappointment in the lives of people. Economically, the situation on the ground has become worse as well as the social life than it used to be. Nurses, teaches, and doctors are all on strike so the conditions of life here are really difficult here in the eastern part of Congo. There are repetitive wars and his resignation was surprising for Congolese, they were expecting this and they appreciate this decision," he said.

Kahora said there seems to be an overwhelming perspective that the prime minister let most people who had faith in him down.

"Yes people lost confidence in him because first of all they were too hopeful in him. You know he was the vice prime minister in the 1960s just after the independence of DRC, they saw how the government played a significant role in transforming the lives of the people, but this was not the case. People were expecting the same Gizenga in the 1060s, and even those who only heard about his exploits during those periods wanted him to do the same thing after he was appointed as the prime minister in DRC, but this was not the case," Kahora pointed out.

He said plans announced by the government seem to have been neglected.

"They had an initial plan, which was proposed to the national assembly and even the senate, but two years after he was appointed there is really nothing and there is no improvement. People are saying that this is not the government they want and they don't have hope in this government," he said.

Kahora said the government has the richness and manpower available to help in transforming the country into a prosperous one, but he said the people's hopes have been seriously dented.

"Congo is not like other countries. Congo is a very rich country, which has got minerals, which has got nine different countries, which are bordering it. And you have to understand that the more you have borders the more you can also have income in terms of taxes. Not only this, but also Congo is a very strong because it has got 60 million people this is to mean that labor is very strong. But how can such a prime minister who has got everything, but was not able to transform the country with all these at his disposal?" Kahora asked.

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