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Congo's President Meets New Government

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VOA News - February 17, 2007 10:03 PM

Antoine Gizenga

Democratic Republic of Congo's new government has presented itself to President Joseph Kabila, over two months after he was sworn into office. Franz Wild was at the meeting in Kinshasa and has this report for VOA.

Congo's new 60-member Cabinet still needs parliament approval before it is sworn in. This is expected next week.

Many observers say with fifteen parties involved there are too many interest groups in the coalition. And some observers say the government could collapse not long after it begins work.

Minister of State for Agriculture and son of the late dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, Nzanga Mobutu, told VOA the ministers will work together to begin Congo's reconstruction efforts.

"I think we have to go beyond the parties," he said.  "And that is why I think it is important to discuss with the ministers of state and the main ministers. We are a team and we have to work as such."

The government has also been criticized for having only nine female ministers.

Minister of the portfolio, Jeanine Mabunda, said the selected women were competent, which was more important than filling up the thirty percent female quota.

"I think we should not be selected just because we are women," she said.  "I guess and I hope and I am convinced we are selected, because we have a professional track record and any of my women peers are able to defend their portfolio and their vision under the team spirit of the government. It is not just being a woman it is also being capable."

Congo's historic elections last year saw President Joseph Kabila confirmed in office in a second round run-off, in which several parties threw their weight behind the favorite in exchange for promises to be involved in government. Fourth place finisher Mobutu was one of them.

Three decades of ruinous dictatorship were followed by six years of war, before rebel leaders signed a peace deal and joined the government in 2002.

Mr. Kabila hopes to raise Congo's $2 billion budget by half within the first year, using income from its vast natural resources.


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