Kinshasa, February 22nd, 2022 (CPA). – On the sidelines of the work of the sixth summit of member countries of the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU), which took part, on February 17th and 18th, more than 40 Heads of State and government, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of Foreign Affairs, Christophe Lutundula, who accompanied the Prime Minister to these meetings, gave himself up on Monday to questions from journalist Christophe Boisbouvier of RFI.
The RFI colleague reviewed, with the Congolese statesman, issues relating in particular to the pooling of the forces of the Congolese and Ugandan Armies; to the alleged « slippage » of the elections scheduled for 2023 as well as to its position vis-à-vis Moïse Katumbi and President Tshisekedi. Here is the interview in full:
RFI: Last July, the Democratic Republic of Congo signed with the IMF an exceptional program of some three billion dollars over three years, but given the many cases of bad governance in recent years, what guarantees that this money will not be embezzled?
Christophe Lutundula: What guarantees is the effort that has been deployed since President Tshisekedi has been there and since the government of Prime Minister Sama Lukonde has been there… It is the effort to collect public revenue. And every year, we make leaps and that is why the IMF has come back. This is also what makes the World Bank interested in us and why with the AfDB, we also have fruitful discussions.
RFI: To fight against the ADF rebels, this « terrorist metastasis », as you say, you authorized Ugandan troops to enter Congolese soil. But all Congolese remember the abuses committed by these Ugandan troops -it was at the turn of the 2000s-, didn’t you bring the wolf into the sheepfold?
Christophe Lutundula: No, not at all. We understand the concerns of our compatriots, who are ours, that is to say the repetition of the tragedy of Kisangani. So it is in this context that we have targeted and time-limited operations, which must also safeguard human rights at all costs.
There is a lull that has begun… Obviously, in the meantime, there are pockets that reappear, but it is not by a snap of the fingers that all this will stop.
RFI: Are there any results? Ugandan operation limited in time, you say, it is the affair of how many months?
Christophe Lutundula: I couldn’t tell you how many months, but what I do know is that, ideally in any case, efforts tend to make these operations as short as possible. We are 20 months away from the presidential election, but we feel a tension rising, all the same, in the Congolese political class, because many fear that there will be a slippage in the date of this election and that it will not be held. as planned, in December 2023… What is important for us is the commitment that the president has made. He repeated that he has no intention of doing what we have known in the past. We will respect the Constitution. And above all, remember that these are constitutional deadlines. You cannot talk about the rule of law, which is one of the pillars of state building for the President of the Republic, and ignore the law of the law.
RFI: So there will be no slippage...
Christophe Lutundula: In any case, we see no reason for it. As we speak, we see no reason for it. RFI: But you, who have also been a very close collaborator, for many years, of Moïse Katumbi, are you not going to be cut in two the day when Félix Tshisekedi and Moïse Katumbi will face each other for the presidential election of 2023? Christophe Lutundula: I think things are clear. I participate in government action. The government’s record is also my record. I am in government, my leader is President Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi. It would still be illogical to stay in government and not want President Tshisekedi to continue. Especially since the first time – it was the demining phase – the legacy was so heavy that there was no illusion to be had in thinking that in five years the Congo will change. It is mine clearance work that we are doing, after having wasted almost two and a half years, with what you know… So I am working totally – and Moïse Katumbi knows this – for the government to succeed. We are members of the Sacred Union, with Together for the Republic [Editor’s note: the party of Moïse Katumbi].
RFI: For the moment, you are loyal to the Head of State, but in December 2023…
Christophe Lutundula: I am loyal to the Head of State, I am working for his success. RFI: Are you telling us that, finally, for 2023, you advise Moïse Katumbi not to be a candidate and to support the candidacy of Félix Tshisekedi? Christophe Lutundula: We are not there yet. But I say that, for me, we must continue the work under the label of the Sacred Union and under the leadership of Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi, whom we support. It would still be ridiculous to be in this government, to work alongside President Tshisekedi, and to say tomorrow that we have failed, « Mr. President, do not continue… ». Well, that still doesn’t work! The simplest logic is to say « I throw in the towel, I’m leaving… ». I don’t want to throw in the towel.ACP/