DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
On 18 February 2006, President Kabila ratified the new Constitution. It will not take full effect until the Transition is over and elections are completed. The decentralisation foreseen in the Constitution, including the replacement of the current 11 provinces by 26, will be implemented over a three-year period.
In accordance with the Electoral Act, the President and Parliament (House of Representatives, 500 members) are directly elected, and the Senate, consisting of 108 members, is partly elected by the provincial states through staggered elections. The eleven provincial governors are also elected by the provincial states in staggered elections. The president is also the supreme commander of the armed forces. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President from the parliamentary majority; the ministers are appointed by the President on the proposal of the Prime Minister
Incumbent President Kabila was re-elected in the second round of elections; the coalition supporting his election won an absolute majority in Parliament. In line with promises made during the election campaign, Kabila appointed veteran Prime Minister Antoine Gizenga. The current cabinet consists of 60 persons: six ministers of state, 34 ministers and 20 deputy ministers, striving for regional and ethnic inclusiveness and excluding persons with less than impeccable credentials. On 2 February 2007, Prime Minister Gizenga presented his cabinet and the government programme to parliament. With the approval of the Government Programme, the Cabinet was formally installed. The five pillars of the government programme correspond to the pillars in President Kabila's swearing-in speech on 6 December 2006 and consist of: strengthening peace and the nation; building the State and restoring its authority; reviving the economy; fighting poverty and social inequality; and restoring honour to the family and values and standards. In his speech in Parliament, Gizenga emphasised that no one is above the law, and that the big clean-up starts from the top. Reform of the army and the rule of law must contribute to a lasting peace and the building of an incorruptible and independent judiciary.
For the current political situation, see the history section.
The political and economic reforms of June 2003 have stabilised the economy and created an environment for recovery. There was growth (5-7%) in the economy in both 2002 and 2003, ending 13 years of contraction. Despite problems related to the postponement of elections, the economic outlook remains positive. All sectors of the economy show growth. Cross-border trade outside conflict regions is increasing. Nevertheless, inflation rose sharply in 2005 and again in 2006 due to budget deficits and monetary financing. Interest rates also rose sharply.
The HIPC decision point was reached in July 2003. In total, DRC will benefit from US$10 billion in debt service reduction (nominal value of total debt forgiveness and interest). Of this, US$1 billion comes from the World Bank. However, the largest share of debt service reduction is provided by bilateral creditors within the framework of the Paris Club. The Netherlands has already written off €300 million to DRC, under Naples terms, and will write off more at the HIPC completion point, in line with the standards of the HIPC initiative. Although DRC is currently receiving interim debt relief, the bulk of HIPC debt relief will only become available at the 'HIPC completion point', which will not be reached before the end of 2007. In addition to IMF and HIPC support, the DRC also enjoys substantial World Bank support (over US$1 billion for three years) and, increasingly, support from bilateral donors, especially the European Commission. At the end of August 2005, the IMF provided an additional loan of USD 41 million for the fifth review of the IMF programme under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility. The IMF also called on the DRC government to do more to combat corruption. The World Bank donated USD 150 million for the health sector, particularly the fight against malaria. In the years from 2007 to 2013, the economy grew significantly, with percentages of around 7%. In 2017, growth slowed to 3.4%. Partly due to the strong population growth, the DRC remains a very poor country with an average GDP per capita of $800 per year (2017).
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