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DR CONGO – King Philippe II wants to “heal the wounds of the past and build the future”

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King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium have been visiting the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 07 June 2022. Scheduled to end on 13 June, this visit marks an important turning point in relations between the DRC and Belgium, its former colonial power.

As we know, the Congo, which was once the ‘private property’ of King Leopold II, still bears the traces of the scars of Belgian colonization. It is difficult to forget the severed hands, the disemboweled land and the wealth taken away, the lives taken away and the countless potentialities destroyed in the Congo. How can we ignore the painful assassination of Patrice Emery Lumumba, ‘the inventor of the future’, to repeat Césaire’s words? The list of wrongs is long and it has greatly obscured the relations between the two peoples.

The purpose of this visit by King Philip II is to renew ties and look to the future with confidence. On Wednesday, June 8, in front of the Congolese senators and deputies gathered at the Kinshasa People’s Palace, King Philippe expressed ‘deep regret’.

“On the occasion of my first visit to the Congo, right here before the Congolese people and those who still suffer from it, I wish to reaffirm my deepest regret for these wounds of the past. Sincere regrets that I expressed in my letter to you, Mr. President, two years ago now, for the 60th anniversary of independence,” he said, drawing a bleak picture of colonialism. Perhaps some Congolese were waiting for more. They wanted an apology from King Philip and hoped for reparations. He chose to look to the future to forge a new, fairer and more prosperous partnership.

“Today, you wish to write a new chapter in our relations and look to the future, encouraged by the formidable youth of the Congolese people who are only asking to value their talents. Let’s write this new chapter together”, he said.

These are strong words that set in motion a dynamism between the two countries. Despite the burns of the past, the Democratic Congo today needs development and security. Let us hope that words will give way to concrete actions for the great happiness of the Congolese people!

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CENTRAL AFRICA

DR CONGO – Elections: Candidate Moïse Katumbi’s Party Leader Dies on Eastern Trip

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An official of the party of the opponent Moïse Katumbi was killed and several others wounded Tuesday, November 28, 2023 in Kindu, in eastern DRC, where the opponent arrived as part of his campaign for the presidential election of December 20. This is the first major incident since the beginning of this election campaign, which is taking place in a tense political climate.

The climate was already tense long before the landing of Moïse Katumbi’s plane, the authorities having forbidden the opponent to hold his meeting at the Central Tribune of the main artery of the city of Kindu.

Upon arrival, Moïse Katumbi and his allies, including former Prime Minister Matata Ponyo and Seth Kikuni were cheered and followed by the crowd in the streets before the rally relocated elsewhere. It was at the approach of the governor’s residence that the opponent and his supporters were attacked with stone throws by young supposed to belong to the presidential party.
“Stoned”, according to his party
In the exchanges and the crowd, at the head of the procession, Dido Kakisingi, youth leader of the Ensemble for the Republic party of Moïse Katumbi in Kindu, was hit by a projectile. On the ground, he was beaten violently to the point of dying, according to his party, claiming that he was simply “stoned”.

But for the mayor of Kindu, the latter fell from a vehicle of the procession before being stamped. The police intervened, firing live ammunition. In the process, several others were injured.

These incidents did not stop the campaign procession of Moïse Katumbi who held his rally to ask the people to vote.

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CENTRAL AFRICA

GABON – Raymond Ndong Sima, opponent of Ali Bongo, appointed Transitional Prime Minister

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The President of the transition in Gabon, General Brice Oligui Nguema, appointed Thursday, September 07, 2023 the Transitional Prime Minister Raymond Ndong Sima, an economist and opponent of the president, Ali Bongo, overthrown by the military a week ago, according to a decree read on state television.

Raymond Ndong Sima, 68, had been Prime Minister of Ali Bongo from 2012 to 2014, but he had moved away from power. He regularly accused the power of Ali Bongo of bad governance, until he stood against the head of state at the presidential elections of 2016 and 2023. This year, he joined the Alternance 2023 platform after running and had therefore withdrawn his candidacy to give way to a consensual candidate, Albert Ondo Ossa.

Finally on Wednesday, September 7, Raymond Ndong Sima slammed the door of the coalition, declaring that the situation was «confused for several days» within the group. So he was free from any party because he is an independent candidate. It is not surprising that the junta chose him.

Raymond Ndong Sima is an economist from the north of the country. He completed part of his studies in France before joining the Gabonese Ministry of Economy. Member of the presidential party, the Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG), he finally won a portfolio in 2009, becoming Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.

Break with the CEO in 2015
Two years later, he also won a seat as an MP. Raymond Ndong Sima is known for his lively temperament. He did not hesitate to criticize the CEO, which led to a break in 2015, when he moved to the opposition. Since then, he has been a virulent critic of Ali Bongo’s regime.

In Gabon, General Brice Oligui Nguema, who led the coup of August 30 against a barely proclaimed re-elected Ali Bongo, was sworn in Monday, September 4 as President of a transition period, the duration of which he did not set, and at the end of which he promised “free elections”. On Monday, he also announced the formation of a transitional government including personalities from all political stripes.

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CENTRAL AFRICA

GABON – A general takes the reins of Libreville City Hall

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Following the coup of 30 August 2023, the military junta led by General Brice Clotaire Oligui announced the dissolution of the country’s government institutions. As part of this transition, a new provisional government will soon be appointed based on information received on September 7, 2023.

It is in this perspective that Brigadier General Judes Ibrahim Rapontchombo was appointed as the new head of the Gabonese capital, replacing the former mayor Christine Mba Ndutume, appointed by presidential decree in July 2021.

General Rapontchombo, previously military governor in 2020, has the mission to restore order within an institution shaken in recent years by many financial scandals.

It should be noted that Brigadier General Judes Ibrahim Rapontchombo will be supported in this mission by the former chief of the military prytanee, Commissioner-Colonel Gaude Stive Okoumba, who will assume the role of financial director. This team of soldiers has already begun a new chapter in the management of the Libreville City Hall, by carrying out a first control within the financial management of the City Hall.

As a reminder, 64 years old and in power for 14 years, Ali Bongo Odimba was deposed during a putsch conducted without bloodshed, less than an hour after his camp had proclaimed his re-election to the presidency in a vote described as fraudulent by the putschists. The coup was led by General Oligui, who gathered behind him all the army and police corps, and rallied almost all the parties of the former opposition and part of the formerThe majority as well as a massive surge of a population thanking him for having “liberated” 55 years of “Bongo dynasty” in power.

The military authorities promised to “hand over power to civilians” at the end of a transition whose duration has not been fixed, after having adopted “by referendum”, a new Constitution that will have to be drawn up with the participation of “all the living forces of the Nation” and which will lead to “free and transparent elections”.

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