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DRC President's Allies Secure Top Posts in Parliament

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VOA News - December 29, 2006

Joseph Kabila (file photo)
Joseph Kabila (file photo)
A close adviser to Congolese President Joseph Kabila has won the top leadership position in the Democratic Republic of Congo's newly elected parliament. Joe Bavier is in the capital, Kinshasa, and has more for VOA.

Vital Kamerhe, a former minister and secretary-general of President Kabila's People's Party for Reconstruction and Development, was elected president of the National Assembly by an overwhelming margin.

Kamerhe said his victory showed he was not only the candidate of Kabila's Alliance of the Presidential Majority, but was supported by everyone.

The Alliance of the Presidential Majority won 332 of 500 seats in the legislative body in July parliamentary elections that were part of Congo's first democratic polls in more than 40 years.

Thirty-two candidates initially competed for seven National Assembly posts.

Pro-Kabila MPs took six of the posts, with the remaining position to be decided in a second round of voting.

The opposition said the majority coalition had changed parliamentary bylaws to give itself more control over key commissions, and should have left some leadership posts to the minority group.

But Kamerhe said he was just allowing democracy to run its course and promised to work with the opposition.

The new parliament replaces a body of appointed government supporters, rebels, and civil society members, which helped run Congo during the three-year transition period following the country's 1998-2003 war.

Kamerhe said the lawmakers will begin their work as soon as a prime minister is chosen and a new government is formed.

President Kabila was sworn in earlier this month, promising to unify the country divided during the six-year conflict that saw an estimated four million Congolese die, mainly from starvation and disease.


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