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In VOA Interview,  DRC President Talks About Problems Facing his Country - 2003-11-07

DRC’s president, Joseph Kabila, sat down with a Voice of America reporter to talk about the problems he faces with his country’s transition, and the help he is seeking to bring it about.

After his Wednesday discussion with President George W. Bush at the White House, President Joseph Kabila spoke Thursday of the elections due in his country in the next two years, and the three main areas of discussion about those elections.

“Elections that are supposed to be organized for the first time since 1960 – that's 45 years down the road. Support for those elections. That was one. Support in terms of the logistics; support in terms of the technical aspects of organizing the elections themselves; support to the transitional government,” he said.

Mr. Kabila went on to say that President Bush responded positively, indicating the U.S. is ready to support the transitional government, the elections, the technical aspects, and provide financial support, as well.

“Currently, back home, we are working on, more or less, the figures, more or less, the plan itself, how these elections will be carried out,” said Mr. Kabila.

The transitional government has been in place for about four months. “Nobody gave any chance to this government. It has been functioning like any normal government," he said.

“We are, of course, trying to better the performance, considering the objectives that we have, in as far as the transition is concerned," added president Kabila. "[The] objectives being: a total unification of the country, pacification of the the country itself making it such that administratively, and security-wise, the people are more or less very free to move from east to west, north to south, and this is exactly what’s happening.”

President Kabila was asked about fighting in the eastern part of the Congo, especially in the Ituri region. With the efforts under way, and the support of the United Nations, he believes they are getting “slowly and progressively” in control of the situation.

In January of 2001, Joseph Kabila became, at 29, the youngest president in the world, following the assassination of his father, Laurent Kabila.

Now, at the age of 32, the younger Kabila is presiding over a tricky political transition, in one of the world’s most naturally rich, but deeply troubled, nations.