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Friday, 21 July, 2000, 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK
DR Congo parliament heads south

Democratic Republic of the Congo President Laurent Kabila has signed a decree designed to decentralise the government.

Under the plan - which would take full effect once the current fighting is over - Kinshasa would remain the seat of government and parliament would relocate to the president's power base in the south, Lubumbashi.

The Supreme Court would be set up in the northern town of Kisangani - which is currently held by rebel forces.

A government spokesman told state television that the move aimed at fostering a new political culture in the country following almost two years of war.

Justice Minister Mwenze Kongolo said that instead of concentrating all government institutions in one place they wanted "to give other cities the opportunity to benefit".

Power base

President Kabila's origins and base lie in mineral-rich Katanga province, which has Lubumbashi as its capital.

Lubumbashi is DR Congo's second city, with more than a million inhabitants.

President Kabila:
President Kabila: Pushing ahead with plans despite protests
He announced the creation of a transitional parliament in January.

Deputies were appointed in early July, and their inauguration is now scheduled for 7 August in Lubumbashi.

Opposition parties have criticised the plans.

They say they would violate the 1999 Lusaka peace accords under which new political institutions must be worked out in consultation with opposition groups.

Plans for a national dialogue have foundered with President Kabila's government refusing to work with the international facilitator, Botswana's former President, Sir Ketumile Masire, and other parties.

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See also:

30 Jun 00 | Africa
Timeline: DR Congo conflict
30 Jun 00 | Africa
Congo's unhappy birthday
14 Jun 00 | Africa
Rivals agree to quit Congo city
05 May 00 | Africa
UN failing in Africa
25 May 00 | Africa
UN to monitor Congo pull-out
02 Jul 00 | Africa
Leaders reaffirm Kisangani pact
21 Jul 00 | Africa
Kisangani fears more fighting
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