Sequel to the furore over the recent expulsion of almost 140,000 Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC nationals from neighbouring Congo Brazzaville, the two countries have signed a new free movement of people agreement to replace that of 1999.
The deal, which is to be ratified by the respective Parliaments, was signed on June 3, 2014 in the DRC capital, Kinshasa, where a joint commission of the two countries has been meeting since the beginning of this week. According to Radio France Internationale, RFI, people living along the 1,300 km-long frontier can henceforth cross over to the other side for a maximum of three days with a laissez-passer or national identity card.
Nationals of either country living far from the border can cross over with a passport and visa. Meanwhile, those wishing to live and work in either country must have a passport and work permit. Observers however note that it remains to be seen how the agreement will be applied in the case of workers in the informal sector like traders and builders.
Also, the two sides agreed to set up a commission of inquiry on allegations of violence and violations of human rights in the recent deportation of DRC nationals from Congo Brazzaville. Congo's Interior Minister, Raymond Mboulou and his DRC counterpart, Richard Muyej, promised that compensation will be paid to proven victims of abuses.
Raymond Mboulou promised that the case of each deportee will be re-examined, especially if they were workers. He promised that any future deportations will only be carried out after informing the authorities in Kinshasa. He however vowed that those found to be involved in criminal activities will continue to be expelled.