GOMA – Top officials of the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), a former rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) declared Wednesday that they are going to form a political party.
Their announcement comes exactly one week after CNDP soldiers started voluntarily integrating into the DRC army – Forces Armes de la Republique Democratique du Congo (FARDC), a development that has considerably contributed to the recent return to normalcy in the region.
“Our declaration was important because even the government has been putting forward some declarations. So, our movement, especially the army, has already given their declaration about their integration into the government army,” the current head of CNDP’s political wing, Desire Kamanzi, told this reporter shortly after the initial announcement.
This was during an exclusive interview with The New Times at Goma’s eye-catching Cap Kivu Hotel, the same lake side hotel where Rwanda and DRC Foreign Affairs Ministers braved two icy cold days and finally endorsed the ongoing joint military offensive against ex-Far/Interahamwe last December.
“It was important for us to come up with a declaration which shows some political issues to be considered so that the community should know what we think, what are our views and opinions about what is going on,” he said, stressing that former CNDP was “a political and military party altogether” which was now changing.
“We would now like to become a political party which is recognized by the government of DRC,” underlining what current CNDP spokesman Jean Munyampenda had earlier described as an immediate consequence of their army’s integration into the national army – “the de facto transformation of CNDP into a political party.”
“The present political declaration gives the new orientation of our movement, formerly politico-military,” Munyampenda had read out from a statement.
Kamanzi explained that they were currently engaged in talks with government to iron out issues for their party’s recognition.
“It (the party) must first of all be recognized by government and we are in that process now.”
Kamanzi said, adding that; “Among our requests, there is the top priority which is, becoming a recognized political movement and we hope we are going to succeed.”
The movement is presently – although temporarily halted – holding peace talks with its government in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.
Queried, Kamanzi also noted that he was pleased with their army’s integration into FARDC.
“We are in touch with the military wherever they are at the moment and things are moving okay.”
He stressed that their forces were joining the government army “to fight against FDLR” but also underlined that “integration is a process.”
“I cannot say that it is going to be completed suddenly. It is a process we have started and is so far so good,” he said, adding that he hadn’t heard of any problems – “I think things are moving in the right direction.”