Tuesday, July 20, 2004

DRC: One plus Four; bios of the VPs

The draft UN report on wealth exploitation in Congo mentions that Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba has been transporting weapons to Gbadolite, his old base in the north. And a couple of weeks ago, Minority Rights International accused the forces led by this same VP of orchestrating a campaign of "extermination" against the minority Bambuti pygmies.

This post was just going to be about Bemba ... but ended up being about all the vice-presidents.

The peace deal that ended the civil war in Congo-Kinshasa created a system with one president and four vice-presidents. Two of the vice-presidents were nominated by the two major armed rebel groups, one was nominated by the governing (President's) party, and the fourth represented the unarmed/civilian opposition groups. The vice-presidents were sworn in on July 17, 2003.

BTW, those rebel groups are now "political parties". Everybody is preparing for the elections due next year.

Interesting aside ... When people in Kinshasa rioted following the takeover of Bukavu by rebels, they chanted "One plus four equals zero", demonstrating their unhappiness with the system.

Now for the mini bios I've pulled together ...

President Joseph Kabila
  • dad was Laurent Desire Kabila, the man who led the revolt against Mobutu Sese Seko ... and overthrew Mobutu in 1997
  • Joseph took over after Laurent was assassinated in 2001.
  • there were those who seriously doubted that Joseph would survive as long as he has.
  • see this post for a bit more on Junior.

  • Vice-Presidents ....
    Jean-Pierre Bemba Ngombo (b. Nov. 4, 1962)
  • VP in charge of finance
  • leader of the former rebel Uganda-backed Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC
  • son of leading businessman Jeannot Bemba Saolona
  • used to be company director of Sibe Zaire
  • Bemba Saolona had close ties with Mobutu Sese Seko ... he even married off one of his daughters to one of Mobutu's sons. So when Laurent Kabila took over, he was jailed and beaten. However, he soon gained Kabila's favour and was appointed a minister in the government. In the meantime, the son took up arms against Kabila, founding and leading the MLC. Father and son soon begain accusing eachother of betrayal.** The father lost his ministerial post sometime in 2000.
  • Jean-Pierre Bemba is somebody who was safe and successful during the Mobutu years ... and he hasn't really shaken that assocation with the regime. Many of those who fought alongside him in the MLC also had ties with the Mobutu regime ... either as children of "big men" or as "big men" themselves. Bemba has been called a "Mobutist", a label he rejects emphatically.
  • i don't know how much you can read into this ... when he was fighting, Bemba set-up his headquarters in Gbadolite, Mobutu's hometown. (Scroll up to the start of this post ... it is to Gbadolite that the UN report says Bemba has been moving his weapons.)

  • Azarias Ruberwa Manywa (b. Aug 20, 1964)
  • VP in charge of security, defence and political affairs
  • leader of the former rebel Rwanda-backed Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD-Goma)
  • Rwanda was (and some would say, still is) unpopular in the DRC and therefore the RCD was very unpopular as well.
  • he was one of the founders of RCD and an advocate for the recognition of the Banyamulenge - Congolese of Rwandan origin - as Congolese citizens.
  • lawyer by training
    ---- I give up! There's precious little (free) information availabe about this man.

  • Abdoulaye Yerodia Ndombasi (b. Jan 5, 1933)
  • VP in charge of reconstruction of national infrastructure
  • fought alongside Laurent Kabila against Mobutu
  • was Laurent Kabila's chief of staff, also ex-foreign & education minister
  • back in 2000, a Belgian judge issued an arrest warrant for Ndombasi over alleged crimes against humanity (inciting violence against Tutsis). But in early 2002, the International Court of Justice ruled that he could not be tried because he was the foreign minister when he allegedly committed those offences and therefore enjoyed immunity under international law. As a result of this ruling, the Belgian court withdrew the arrest warrant.
  • psychoanalyst by training

  • Arthur Zahidi (Z'Ahidi) Ngoma (b. Sept. 18, 1947)
  • VP in charge of sociocultural sector
  • member of the political opposition
  • used to be deputy chairman of the rebel RCD. He quit in 1999, accusing the leadership of being undemocratic. A year later he moved to the DRC, this time at the head of an unarmed political group he had founded called the "Union of Congolese for Peace".
  • worked for UNESCO for 20 years
  • lawyer by training

    Other Sources used ...
  • DR Congo's transition govt kicks off as vice presidents sworn in
  • DRC: Kabila defines roles of his four vice-presidents
  • DRC: Transitional government
  • Congo rebel leaders sworn in as vice-presidents
  • Rebel Leader Azarias Ruberwa to Become One of DRC's Vice Presidents
  • DR Congo transitional government. (July 2003). Africa Research Bulletin: Political, Social and Cultural Series 40(7) 15370-15371.
  • **Onishi, Norimitsu. (1999, July 29).Papa and a Rebel Son Ask: Who's the Betrayer? New York Times.

    If you see any mistakes or omissions, please let me know. afrophile@hotpop.com