DR Congo


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Difficult tasks await Kenyan MPs

By Karen Allen
BBC News, Nairobi

It had all the pageantry and trappings of a state ceremony.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga arrive at parliament

The two leaders agreed the power-sharing deal last week

The national anthem, the guard of honour, the ceremonial dress – but this was a unique opening of parliament.

Kenya’s lawmakers are under the spotlight in a way never seen before.

Kenyans still stunned by post-election violence are vesting their trust in leaders in a country where in the recent past, they have been badly let down.

More than half of the members of parliament are newcomers and they will be expected to hit the ground running, to turn up to vote and pave the way for a historic coalition.

A coalition aimed at restoring unity to what the president described as “one Kenya”.

Stumbling blocks

It was a week to the day that a power-sharing deal had been agreed between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

They shook hands in the presence of the world’s media, flanked by Kofi Annan and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete.

Opening of Kenyan parliament 6/03/08
The new parliament began with two minutes of silence

That was just the start of a process. In the coming weeks lawmakers will be expected to enact legislation that will amend the constitution and allow a grand coalition to be formed.

They then have to try to “sell” the idea of power sharing to their constituents, among them people who are now homeless or who have lost loved ones in the violence.

There are still potential stumbling blocks ahead – in particular, how power will be shared and how cabinet posts and other senior positions will be allocated.

But for Thursday’s ceremony the tone was conciliatory and upbeat.

After a two minute silence – first for parliamentarians killed in post-election violence and then for “ordinary” Kenyans who lost their lives, President Kibaki rose to his feet.

In a 30-minute speech he stressed the need for last week’s peace accord to be quickly enacted into law, but warned that it would require “goodwill, unity, good faith and integrity” of Kenya’s lawmakers.

Awkward realities

This country is emerging from one of the darkest periods of its history and the coming weeks will be a real test of the commitment of all sides to a durable peace.

A member of the Kikuyu Mungiki gang threatens a man with a machete in Nairobi's Kibera slum, 10 January 2008

Some 1,500 people died in unrest after disputed poll results

Kenyans will be forced to confront some awkward realities with the establishment of a truth, justice and reconciliation commission to investigate past injustices and violence blamed on supporters on all sides of the political fence.

They will also be forced to compromise.

There are concerns that a grand coalition will rob Kenyans of a real opposition.

This has effectively been a deal between two political blocks – those supporting President Kibaki’s PNU and those backing Raila Odinga’s ODM.

Earlier in the day, diplomats insisted the onus would be on the media to help keep the government in check.

But what is clear is that this could be the start of a new pragmatism in Kenyan politics. A chance for a new breed of politician to shine, putting aside a past where winner takes all.

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TORONTO, Dec 12 (Reuters) – First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO: Quote, Profile, Research) said on Wednesday that shipments from two of its mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, destined for Zambia, had been halted, but added that at least one mine will soon be able to resume shipments.

The Canadian-based copper miner said it had been informed on Nov. 28 that the governor of Katanga province in DRC, had ordered the border closed to the shipment of copper ores and exploration core samples from First Quantum’s Lonshi mine.

First Quantum was also advised to not ship copper concentrate from its Frontier mine, it said.

This led to the Frontier concentrate storage shed filling up to capacity, which forced First Quantum to suspend milling operations on Dec. 11.

First Quantum said issues regarding concentrate shipping from Frontier have since been resolved and concentrate shipments should begin shortly. Milling operations should resume a few days later after the concentrate stockpile is reduced.

The restart of Lonshi ore shipments is awaiting final authorization from DRC authorities, the company said.

“Mining operations at both sites have continued unaffected,” First Quantum said.

The company said issues surrounding the border closure order had included improving measurement procedures for concentrate movement on the DRC side of the border and “communicating the export procedures already agreed to with the relevant DRC government authorities to the governor’s office,” the company said.

A First Quantum spokesman did not immediately return calls. The company said in the release it would publish more information when available.

First Quantum shares were down C$1.16 at C$91.54 on the Toronto Stock Exchange shortly after the news was released.

($1=$1.01 Canadian) (Reporting by Cameron French; Editing by Rob Wilson)

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LUSAKA (AFP) — The UN Thursday resumed the repatriation of 12,000 Congolese refugees from Zambia which was suspended three months ago due to insecurity in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) Katanga province.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said 400 refugees from Zambia’s northern province would be shipped to Moba, a small town in Katanga in neighbouring DR Congo every day.

“Today’s resumption is a result of the progressive amelioration of the political and security situation in Moba, and the willingness expressed by the Congolese refugees to (return to their) country of origin,” UNHCR said in a statement released in Lusaka.

The process was suspended after violent riots in Moba.

According to the agency, the repatriation would probably be suspended again at the end of next month as heavy rains were expected to make roads in northern Zambia impassable.

Initially, 20,000 refugees were due to be repatriated this year but the figure was brought down to 12,000 following various constraints, UNHCR said.

Over 5,500 have left Zambia for the DRC this year, the statement said.

Zambia shelters around 114,000 refugees from various countries with Congolese constituting the majority with an estimated number of over 57,000 settled in various camps.

Source: http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hlBRoXtx8RPNzo2dC7LNi1GG22pQ