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Article Congo, The Democratic Republic of the: President Adopts Laws on Elections, Traditional Leaders

(Sept. 8, 2015) The President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Joseph Kabila, issued two laws on August 25, 2015. One of the new statutes sets the status of traditional leaders, and the other adopts the pattern of distribution of seats of representatives for each local elective constituency. (DRC Head Enacts Laws Distributing Seats per Constituency, Establishing Status of Traditional Leaders, RADIO TELEVISION NYOTA RADIO (Aug. 26, 2015), Open Source Center online subscription database, ID No. AFR201508286395450.)

Kabila also authorized an agreement with the International Development Association, signed on April 2, 2015, that will fund improvements at the airport at Goma. The city of Goma is located in the eastern part of the DRC, on the border with Rwanda. (Id.; Democratic Republic of the Congo [map], United Nations website (last visited Aug. 31, 2015).)

Details on Status of Traditional Leaders

According to the text of the document issued by Kabila, the customary authority of traditional leaders is recognized in the Constitution of the DRC, but that document states that their authority can be limited by law. (DRC Head Enacts Laws Distributing Seats per Constituency, Establishing Status of Traditional Leaders, supra; Constitution of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (adopted May 13, 2005, approved by the referendum held Dec. 18-19, 2005), art. 207, CONSTITUTION.NET.) However, the legal regime had not yet clarified the rights of those leaders.

The new statute defines the customary chief as a chief, group leader, or village chief designated by local customs, whose powers are also determined by customs and recognized by public authorities. The law establishes that traditional leaders enjoy consideration and respect, “decent” pay, immunity from arrest except if caught in the act of a crime, and other considerations. In turn, the traditional leader is required to be apolitical, not to take part in anti-government activities, and to be involved in resolving conflicts through conciliation, mediation, and arbitration. (DRC Head Enacts Laws Distributing Seats per Constituency, Establishing Status of Traditional Leaders, supra.)

Law on Distribution of Representatives’ Seats and Criticism of It

The new statute on the distribution of representatives in provincial, municipal, and local elections specifies that the Independent National Electoral Commission is to organize those elections. (DRC Opposition, Presidential Majority Disagree on Bill for Seats Distribution in Local Institutions, TOP CONGO FM (Aug. 27, 2016), Open Source Center online subscription database, ID No. AFR2015083079730420.)

Fidele Babala, of the political opposition, regards the new law as illegal and unconstitutional. He stated, “the bill on the distribution of seats [is] totally incoherent because we know that the head of state himself stated … that the electoral commission should register the young voters. When this registration will be over [sic] we will pass on a new bill.” He also noted that two million voters are not properly listed in the current election files, suggesting that an audit is necessary. (Id.)

The government responded to the opposition, arguing that the law is constitutional. Gaston Musemena, a member of the presidential majority in the legislature, says that the proper procedure to enact the bill was followed and that the National Electoral Commission, should organize elections for local, municipal, and provincial officials within two months. (Id.)

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Chicago citation style:

Johnson, Constance. Congo, The Democratic Republic of the: President Adopts Laws on Elections, Traditional Leaders. 2015. Web Page. https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2015-09-08/congo-the-democratic-republic-of-the-president-adopts-laws-on-elections-traditional-leaders/.

APA citation style:

Johnson, C. (2015) Congo, The Democratic Republic of the: President Adopts Laws on Elections, Traditional Leaders. [Web Page] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2015-09-08/congo-the-democratic-republic-of-the-president-adopts-laws-on-elections-traditional-leaders/.

MLA citation style:

Johnson, Constance. Congo, The Democratic Republic of the: President Adopts Laws on Elections, Traditional Leaders. 2015. Web Page. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2015-09-08/congo-the-democratic-republic-of-the-president-adopts-laws-on-elections-traditional-leaders/>.