A Specific Collective Effort Needed to Establish Lasting Peace in DR of Congo (DROC)

A Press Release Issued by the Convention of Democratic and Social Institutions (CIDES)

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

August 27, 2002

After forty years of corrupt dictatorship followed by six years of war, invasion, and plundering foreign military occupation, the (DROC) appears to be on the brink of peace, national reconciliation and the beginning of a new democratic political era.

Although the signing of a peace agreement in South Africa on July 30, 2002 between DROC and Rwanda is a step toward ending the devastating conflict in the Great Lakes region, there remains the big challenge of building a coalition to establish a lasting peace in this part of the world. To reconstruction, the Congo's internal economy must be number one priority because a strong economy will help build a strong democracy which requires a certain level of economic stability.

The moment is ripe for a low-profile initiative designed to establish a strong partnership between DROC and international finance community. In this state of mind, the question is did the Congolese Finance Minister sign an agreement giving CELTEL an exemption from taxes for a certain period, or didn't he? If he did give them an exemption, how can the tax collector now claim that CELTEL owes them money for taxes? If he was authorized to give an exemption, how is it possible for the government to reverse the exemption? If this is an arbitrary action, then the DROC will be hurting its already bad reputation for investors.

The Congolese government should go through proper procedures instead of freezing the company's bank accounts and making arbitrary decisions. This looks is like the old days of pure amateurism where the officials do not know what they are doing. The government must understand codes, rules and regulations or is falling into the "anti-capital" trap.

CIDES is worried that this issue can become a major problem for the members of Congolese government, they seem to be acting like ignorant peasants. The parent company of CELTEL, MSI of Amsterdam, has some very important US investors, including the American International Group, the world's largest insurance company. This is a responsible company, and deserves to be treated with respect so that they will increase their investment.

The way of the Congolese government is acting now, if MSI will close the company, nobody will come in to invest anything. Is there no governement in Kinshasa that understands the importance of treating foreign investors with respect and dignity? CIDES is outraged by this nonsense. The Congolese people need a new and credible government in the DRC can encourage investors, to support a policy of commercial trade, transfer of new technology in order to build a new country.

A Principled Approach to Governing Congo offers proposals to strengthen the security, order, and economic vitality of the Congo.

Jean-Oscar Ngalamulume
Chairman de la CIDES

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