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Kinshasa Mulls Over Challenging Swiss Court Ruling about Mobutu’s Assets


The Democratic Republic of Congo government is weighing options to appeal a Swiss court ruling which awarded former President Mobutu Sese Seko's assets to his family.

Information minister Lambert Mende said Kinshasa is waiting for its justice minister to review the case before taking any action.

In its ruling, the court said former President Sese Seko had at least six million dollars stashed in various Swiss bank accounts.

Minister Mende told VOA that Kinshasa is disappointed with the court's ruling.

"With due respect to a court decision that is the judgment, the government is not happy with this decision because the government was of the conviction that this money should have been sent to the Congolese people," Mende said.

He said the justice minister is reviewing the ruling in order to advise Kinshasa on the likelihood of challenging the court's decision.

"We are waiting a position from our minister for justice who is handling the file. He will tell us if there is any possibility to appeal," he said.

Mende said there are indications some circumstances would make it difficult to challenge the ruling.

"According to what I heard personally from press reports, there might not be a gain possibility to appeal, but the minister has not confirmed. But if there is any possibility, I'm sure that the government will appeal against that decision," Mende said.

He said President Joseph Kabila was equally displeased with the court's ruling.

"The reaction of the government is the reaction of the president… you know we have to show respect to the court decision, we are a state. Though we have our feeling, we are not happy with that decision," he said.

Mende said after various investigations, Kinshasa has concluded that former President Sese Seko took money belonging to the Congolese people.

"It is because the government did investigation that is why the government has asked for that money to come back. This was made before our team (government) took over. It was done, I think, around the year 2001 or 2002," Mende said.

He said there are structures in place now that would prevent future presidents from looting the country's resources.

Meanwhile, human rights organizations have sharply condemned the Swiss court's ruling describing it as unfortunate.

They argued that former President Sese Seko's assets, stashed in Swiss bank accounts were ill-gotten and called for the money's return to help suffering Congolese.

According to Transparency International, former President Sese Seko embezzled over $5 billion from his country during his reign which lasted from 1965 to 1997. Transparency ranked him as the third most corrupt African leader


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