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DRC Ex-Combatants Form Political Party to Contest Future Elections

Sixteen of the 21 former rebel groups who recently signed a ceasefire agreement with Kinshasa have formed a political party to contest future elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The party, known as the Patriotic Coalition for the Defense of Democracy (PCDD) aims to address what its founders described as the ineptitude of President Joseph Kabila's government. The former combatants accused the government of failing to alleviate the suffering of the ordinary Congolese.

Didier Bitaki is a leading member of the new party. He told VOA the new party is generating a lot of grassroots support after Kinshasa failed to live up to its promises.

"The reason why the party was created was that first 16 years we have been fighting in different wars, but didn't get the solution to stabilize the country. And now among the reason why there was a war… we can select for example political issues, political problems, which have to be resolved. Social problems and diplomatic problems," Bitaki said.

He said Kinshasa has so far failed to resolve the country's problems.

"Our political leaders were not able to place the country on the place where it should be placed. Unfortunately, there is looting, there is corruption money laundering and many things. So, we are just doing our best to improve on that situation through the new political party we are creating as a main aim of our party," he said.

Bitaki said the new party would ensure that it addresses the concerns of ordinary Congolese.

"Because we were fighting and we were looking for solutions by making the way unfortunately we did not do so. Now, we are deciding to lead our party and wait for the elections to prove that we are patriots. The people are with us and the population understand why Mai Mai we are fighting and I think in short that is the reason," Bitaki said.

He said the new party is credible and has the support of the people and would seriously challenge the ruling party in future elections.

"The first thing is that we are credible because the reason why is that if you ask who is the Mai Mai and what does the Mai Mai people need? Mai Mai people need is patriots and due to their patriotism that is what has led to the fighting of Mai Mai is that all of the people were behind Mai Mai combatants. Now, because we have already resolved the military question and I think due to the need of the population, we noticed that we need to deal with the political issues," he said.

Bitaki said most ordinary Congolese support the former combatants to bring about change in how they are governed.

"We are saying that we are going to fight all of what is bad for our population; it means that the people understand our cause and all of them are mobilized behind us that to make a change in the country," Bitaki said.

He accused some political leaders for embezzling funds he said belong to the country.

"In political issues, do you see how the country is? So that for someone to be rich to find money to become very strong, he has to become a political leader in the country starting by stealing money from the national treasury and build house. And I think buying a house is the political aim of our political leaders now in our country now, we need to bring change there," he said.

Bitaki said the country has not had good relationship with its neighbors.

"The Democratic Republic of Congo is the only country around the world that doesn't have any embassy out of the country for real. They are not paying even the ambassadors and there is a very bad relationship with our neighbors. So we want to resolve that issue," Bitaki said.