KINSHASA, July 16 (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Joseph Kabila has sacked one in 10 of his country’s judges and prosecutors to try to stamp out corruption in the judiciary, Congo’s justice minister said on Thursday.
The president of the Supreme Court and the State Prosecutor were amongst those ousted after recommendations made by a Congolese legal disciplinary body.
Kabila has run the rich but notoriously corrupt nation since 2001 but he has come increasingly under pressure to deliver on promises that he made during a 2006 presidential election campaign to eradicate graft that is undermining development. Thursday’s sacking of 165 of the 1,650 judges and prosecutors would prepare the judiciary to launch the fight against corruption, Justice Minister Luzolo Bambi Lessa said.
"Resulting effects will be felt in other parts of the civil service. We had to start somewhere," Bambi Lessa said, adding that the Congolese military legal system would be targeted next.
Rights groups have been pushing for Kabila’s government to step up efforts to improve the rule of law in the vast nation, which is still struggling to stamp its authority on various rebellions and poorly governed regions.
The United Nations has its largest peacekeeping mission in Congo and donors have flooded the country with aid but critics say there has been little progress since the 2006 poll, which was meant to draw a line under years of war and chaos.
The army and the country’s mineral sector are often highlighted amongst the most corrupt institutions.
"The most corrupt are gone, but there is still some work to do. Big corporations have many magistrates in their pocket — some companies even have ‘their judge’," Kinshasa-based lawyer Camille Yuma told Reuters after the sackings. (Reporting by Thomas Hubert; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Alison Williams)