Parallel Administration Disputes Remain

Kinshasa struggles to re-impose state authority over North Kivu territories.

Parallel Administration Disputes Remain

Kinshasa struggles to re-impose state authority over North Kivu territories.

The government's failure to fully dismantle the political structure of former rebel strongholds is adding to a growing sense of unease in North Kivu, where tensions have already been heightened by fears that refugees returning to the region could join local militia groups.

In many districts, official government administrators share control with former National Congress for the Defence of the People, CNDP, rebels, who should have relinquished their position in accordance with a March 2009 Goma peace agreement. The two administrations are disputing taxes in different areas.

Many CNDP soldiers, who have been formally integrated into the national army, are still deployed in areas they controlled during the war. They continue to support the local CNDP administrations, which makes it difficult for the government to reassert control.

“The state authority is still unwelcome in Rutshuru territory,” Kalonda Amisi, the government administrator for the region, told IWPR. “The governor of North Kivu sent me to install a new chief in Bwito area, in Kitshanga. Rather than welcome me, the ex-CNDP chief sent a military officer to turn me away.”

Ayubangira Sanvura, a member of the national assembly, fears that unless these parallel administration structures are dismantled, conflict could return to the region.

“Former rebels are still running the administration in most of these areas and, for many, the rebellion continues since they have never seen any change on the ground. People pay taxes to rebels rather than the government, which they are not happy about since the war is officially over,” Sanvura said.

Between 2004 and 2008, the CNDP waged war on the Congolese government, seizing a number of villages in the Masisi, Rutshuru and Nyiragongo territories.

The CNDP installed a new administration in these areas, causing government chiefs to flee.

As part of a peace agreement, which was signed in Goma on March 23 last year, CNDP leaders were required to give up control of regional administrations, in return for assuming some government responsibilities.

But many have not yet done so, saying that the government has been slow in creating official positions for them.

“If the administrators, their deputies and members of their staff are not appointed, they are going to continue working in their areas and obviously collect taxes,” said Philip Gafishi, the newly-appointed head of the CNDP. “The money collected is helping the CNDP to take care of war casualties, widows and orphans.”

Gafishi said that the government should have incorporated CNDP administrators by January 15, but has yet to do so.

Desiré Kamanzi, former head of the CNDP, resigned in November, reportedly out of frustration over non-implementation of the Goma agreement.

Government authorities hope that more progress can be made with the appointment of Gafishi as new CNDP chairman.

“To enable local democratic elections to be held, we must have an established state authority on the whole province,” said Katamuliko Richard, political adviser to the governor of North Kivu. “This is not an easy task for the new [president of the CNDP], although he is still very young and he has a good will.”

Gafishi says that he recently met President Joseph Kabila to discuss the implementation of the peace agreement.

“We had good discussions,” he reported. “We agreed to achieve, in a short time, the contents of the agreement. We have now agreed with the president on a timetable and I can assure you that things will be faster.”

For now, the question of parallel administration in Masisis and Rutshuru remains, but Gafishi has promised that, eventually, all CNDP-controlled areas will be turned over to the government.

“We are in a process,” he said. “The CNDP has already transferred its soldiers and police to the government. Some territories have been abandoned by the CNDP political leaders. Before long, the government will have control of all the territories in North Kivu.”

Jacques Kahorha is an IWPR-trained reporter in Congo.
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