A Democratic Republic of Congo cabinet minister told VOA President Joseph Kabila’s administration will continue with its “massive” infrastructural development program, as the country celebrates 50 years of independence today (Wednesday).
Information minister Lambert Mende said the government has rescued the country from the brink of a failed state after several years of turmoil that led to the loss of life and property.
“We are celebrating (the) 50th anniversary of our independence and we are happy to see many heads of state around us, SADC (Southern African Development Community), Central African Republic and even the King of Belgium, (and) the King of Morocco to come and attend this event,” he said.
Mende also said the government and the people of Congo feel comforted by the presence of world leaders who are scheduled to participate in the country’s golden jubilee anniversary celebration.
Several heads of states and government representatives, as well as other international organizations including representatives from the African Union, have reportedly arrived in the capital, Kinshasa, to participate in the celebration.
Mende said Congolese recognize the importance of the country’s independence.
“We are originating from colonialism, from bad governance for more than 40 years, and we have launched a rebuilding renaissance program that took place from the year 2006. And indeed, we have started reconstructing this country and we have decided that this anniversary is the occasion for us to speak and think of our reconstruction because we were almost losing this country,” Mende said.
But, critics say President Kabila’s government has so far failed to alleviate the suffering of the Congolese despite repeated promises and goodwill from the international community.
They also accused the government of what they described as “security pretence” saying the administration is forcing out the U.N. Peacekeeping Mission (MONUC) ahead of the independence celebration. They contend that the country could degenerate into another round of chaos if the peacekeepers leave.
But, Minister Mende dismissed the accusation as colonialism mentality.
“We are facing criticism from abroad (and) from those people who are fond of neo-colonialism and who are unhappy to see Congo overcome their project of disbanding and destroying the national unity of this country. So, we care very much about the feeling of our people, they gave confidence to (Mr.) Kabila and the majority (in parliament) and we are working for them,” Mende said.
The U.N. Security Council mandated its peacekeepers to “use all necessary measures” to protect Congo’s unarmed civilian population against violence perpetrated by various armed groups.
With about 20,000 peacekeepers in the D.R.C., MONUC is the largest U.N. mission to a single country with an estimated budget of more than $1 billion.