(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

Parliament launched

The National Assembly and Senate of the two-year transitional government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) were opened on Friday in the capital, Kinshasa, presided by President Joseph Kabila and his four vice-presidents.

"This meeting is very important, because it's the last stage of installation for the transition in Congo," Olivier Kamitatu, president of the National Assembly and member of the Mouvement de liberation du Congo (MLC) former rebel group, told IRIN.

The National Assembly is made up of 500 members from the numerous parties to the inter-Congolese dialogue, namely the former Kinshasa government, the unarmed political opposition, civil society and former rebel movements. The Senate, headed by civil society leader Pierre Marini Bodho, is made up of 120 members from the various parties to the national power-sharing accord.

"All members of parliament will have an important role to play in consolidating the reunification and the pacification of Congo, and to adopt more than 60 laws regarding the constitution - among them laws on nationality, functioning and organisation of political parties, elections law, and institutional management," Kamitatu said.

In his remarks, Marini said that there would no longer be impunity for the massacres and murders the Congolese people had suffered during nearly five years of war, while Kamitatu said that one of parliament's first priorities would be to discuss a general amnesty.

He added that parliament should use its power to end fighting and the massacres that have continued in the Ituri District of the northeast and the Kivu provinces of the east.

Meanwhile, Belgium said it would contribute €500,000 (US $543,600) to support the transitional government. The report follows a similar announcement by the Netherlands on 13 August that it would give $1 million for logistical support of the new government.

The two chambers of the newly-inaugurated parliament postponed until a later date the installation of five institutions to be headed by civil society representatives to support the transitional government that were due to be launched on Monday - namely, a national human rights observatory; a high authority for media; a truth and reconciliation commission; and national elections council; and a commission for ethics and the fight against corruption, as called for by the inter-Congolese dialogue.

"We decided that it was important that the two chambers [of parliament] meet before launching these bodies," Lambert Omalanga, the Senate rapporteur, told IRIN on Monday.

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