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Democratic Republic of the Congo

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Politics and government of
the Democratic Republic of the Congo




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The Constitution of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been changed and/or replaced several times. The Democratic Republic of the Congo has known a tormented history since its independence in 1960, involving a secession - one week after independence, three major coups d'état, a 32-year-long dictatorship, and up to four name and flag changes.

Contents

Current Constitution

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is now under the regime of the constitution which was approved in a referendum by the Congolese people, and promulgated on February 18, 2006 by President Joseph Kabila. Wikisource contains the Complete Text of the Constitution (In the original French).

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General provisions

New political subdivisions were brought by this constitution. The country is divided in 25 provinces, and the capital-city of Kinshasa - to take full-effect 36 months after the official installation of the newly elected President, which occurred on December 6, 2006.

The new motto of the country is : « Justice, Peace, Work ».

Unitary and federal state

The constitution does not settle the debate on whether the state is federal or unitary. It does however establish a united and indivisible state. In practice however, the state will be both unitary and federal:

  • It is unitary central state does have a great deal of authority on the decentralised entities (provinces, territories, etc), and there is only one police force, one hierarchical judicial system, and the elected governors and lieutenant-governors of the provinces are installed by the President.
  • It is federal because there is an express constitutional separation between prerogatives exclusive to the central government, those exclusive to the provincial government, and those that are concurrent to the two. Additionally, the provinces have an independent budget, and an independent administration, with independent physical assets, and an independent civil service corps.

Political pluralism

Creating and belonging to a political party is a civil and political right for all Congolese people. Political parties must obey the law on political parties, respect public order and operate in accordance with "good mors". Parties receive subsidies from the government for their electoral campaign. Having a one-party-system is expressly unconstitutional.

Nationality and citizenship

Congolese citizenship is exclusive. Double citizenship is therefore impossible in theory. Anyone belonging to the ethnic groups whose persons and territory constituted what became the Congo (currently the Democratic Republic of the Congo), at independence is a Congolese national.

Any Congolese national who has not lost his/her political rights, by virtue of a court decision, or by virtue of the law, is a Congolese citizen.

Rights and duties

Civil, political, economic, social, cultural and collective rights, as well as the duties of all citizens, are defined in Title III of the constitution - the unofficial bill of rights and duties. Title III also states that ignorance of the law is not a valid defense in court, or anywhere.

The new constitution limits marriage, in article 40, as the right to « marry the person of one's choice, of the opposite sex, and to create a family » ; thus, it forbids same sex marriage.

Executive power

Legislative power

Judiciary

Military and police

Past Constitutions

The country's first, provisional, constitution was the fundamental law of 1960, which was based on the Constitution of Belgium and established a parliamentary republic. A new constitution, dated August 1, 1964, strengthened the powers of the presidency, enhanced still further by the June 24, 1967 charter. This was amended in August 1974, revised on February 15, 1978, and amended on July 5, 1990. A transitional constitution was then promulgated in April 1994. A Constitutional Act was promulgated in May 1997; draft constitution was proposed but not finalized in March 1998. From April 2, 2003, the country was under a Transition Constitution, which was established as a result of the 2002 Global and Inclusive Agreement of Sun City, South Africa that ended the Second Congo War. This document was in effect until the current constitution came into force on February 18, 2006.


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