The prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, veteran
independence leader and former rebel Antoine Gizenga, has resigned.
VOA's Scott Bobb reports from our West Africa bureau in Dakar.
Prime Minister Antoine Gizenga announced his resignation on national
radio. The 83-year-old leader said although his spirit was healthy and
willing, the human body had its limits.
He added that the task
of rebuilding the country known as Congo/Kinshasa was immense after
decades of misrule, rebellion and civil war, but he said the country
was beginning to recover.
An analyst with London's Chatham
House, Munong Kodi, says there had been rising criticism of the Gizenga
"A lot of people thought there was not effective
coordination and vision on the part of the government," he said.
"That's the main reason why people wanted change."
appointed prime minister by President Joseph Kabila nearly two years
ago following national elections aimed at ending years of dictatorship
and civil war.
The veteran politician was a deputy to Congo's
first prime minister, Patrice Lumumba, following independence and
served briefly as prime minister.
But he joined a breakaway
government in Stanleyville, northeastern Congo, after Lumumba was
dismissed and subsequently assassinated. At the height of the cold
war, this government was recognized by nearly two dozen governments.
rebellions were ended under the government of the late president Mobutu
Sese Seko who ruled with an iron hand for more than three decades.
Gizenga spent most of these years in exile, but returned to Congo in
the early 1990s following the legalization of opposition political
He participated in the negotiations in the late 1990s
aimed at ending the civil wars of 1996 and 1997 that deposed Mobutu
and brought another rebel leader, Laurent Kabila, to power. Kabila was
killed by a guard in 2001 and replaced by his son, the current
Gizenga, who heads the Unified Lumumbist Party or
PALU, came in third in presidential elections two years ago. He
subsequently entered into a coalition with Mr. Kabila who won the
Gizenga's appointment as prime minister was aimed
at appeasing the restive northeastern Congo, which long resented the
central government in Kinshasa, half-a continent away, and where
several small rebellions continued to fester.
A network of 83
aid agencies said, in a report issued Thursday by Human Rights Watch,
that a resumption of fighting in eastern Congo's Kivu regions had
displaced more than one million people and caused a drastic
deterioration in the humanitarian situation.
people hoped that Gizenga would move more quickly to rebuild Congo,
whose economy and infrastructure were devastated by the decades of war,
rebellion and misrule.
Kodi of Chatham House says it will be
difficult to see any kind of lasting legacy from Gizenga's tenure as
head of government.
"The Congo is all but a failed state in which
everything is a priority and the means to live up to the expectations
of the people are very limited," he said. "So it's a situation that
requires vision, that requires stamina. And these things lacked in the
government that left power just now."
Kodi expects a major cabinet re-shuffle which would see changes in some key ministries.
Kabila government has moved to revitalize Congo's mining industry,
historically the backbone of its economy. But these efforts have been
slow and the benefits have yet to reach most of Congo's 65 million
people who continue to suffer from unemployment, malnutrition and a
lack of social services.