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DRC: After months, a new government finally emerges

By Romain Gras, Stanis Bujakera Tshiamala
Posted on Tuesday, 27 August 2019 08:40

Felix Tshisekedi receives the presidential sash from the outgoing President Joseph Kabila during the inauguration ceremony whereby Tshisekedi was sworn into office as the new president of the Democratic Republic of Congo at the Palais de la Nation in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, January 24, 2019. REUTERS/Olivia Acland

After an all-night session on 26 August a new 65-member governing team has been named in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The result of several months of negotiations between the Common Front for Congo (FCC) and Direction for Change Coalition (Cach) the team is marked by the appointment of new personalities to key portfolios such as Finance, Mines, Defence, Foreign Affairs, and the Budget.

Seven months after President Félix Tshisekedi’s inauguration on 24 January, the Congolese president finally has a government. Earlier, on 29 July, CACH, and Joseph Kabila’s FCC, agreed on a distribution of the 65 portfolios: 42 positions would go to the FCC and 23 to the CACH. Now, the names of President Tshisekedi’s first team are known.

A 17% female team

Important changes have been made. However, 76.9% of the members of this administration have never taken part in a government, and only 17% of portfolios have been allocated to women, according to the statement issued by Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilukamba.

  • The Ministry of Finance will be headed by José Sele Yalaghuli, former Chief of Staff to former Prime Minister Matata Ponyo.
  • The Justice Department will be led by Célestin Tunda Y’a Kasende, former Deputy Secretary General of Joseph Kabila’s People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD).
  • The Foreign Affairs portfolio will be under Marie Tumba Nzeza, a Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) executive
  • The Ministry of the Interior – a very strategic position – will be headed by Gilbert Kankonde, also a member of the UDPS.
  • The Ministry of Mines belongs to Willy Kitobo Samsoni.
  • The Ministry of Industry goes to Julien Paluku Kahongya, former Governor of North Kivu.
  • The Ministry of Higher and University Education will be headed by Thomas Luhaka.
  • The Ministry of Defence will come under Aimé Ngoy Mukena.

In addition, Jean Baudoin Mayo Mambeke was appointed Deputy Prime Minister of the Budget, and Azarias Ruberwa as Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Decentralization. .

No opening

All 65 members who make up this first government are from either Tshisekedi’s UDPS, Vital Kamerhe’s UNC (his chief of staff), or of Joseph Kabila’s FCC.

Neither Antipas Mbusa Nyamwisi, who left the Lamuka opposition platform, nor Tryphon Kin-Kiey Mulumba, who had withdrawn his candidacy during the December 2018 presidential election in favour of Tshisekedi, were appointed.

  • Among the most glaring absentees is the president of the AFDC-A, Modeste Bahati Lukwebo, and François Mwamba, who was part of the CACH team of negotiators.

The governing body must be invested before Parliament in an extraordinary session on 7 September called by Prime Minister Ilunga. It will be remembered, he was appointed on 20 May, after intense negotiations marked, in particular, by Tshisekedi’s rejection of candidates proposed by Joseph Kabila, such as the head of Gécamines, Albert Yuma.

Ilunga established the rules to guide the composition of the lists of candidates to be submitted. The ministers were not to have been the subject of a “judicial sentence in the DRC or abroad” and were to include “old and new figures and [the] rising generation”.

Multiple blockages

The allocation of the Foreign Affairs, Interior, Budget and Economy portfolios was the subject of intense negotiations that delayed the process. Under the Nairobi Agreement, which gave birth to the CACH, the post of Prime Minister was initially to be held by Vital Kamerhe. The position finally went to Ilunga, in an attempt to find a compromise, but which also revealed the extent of the dissension within the president’s coalition.

Excluding Modeste Bahati Lukwebo leader of the AFDC-A, the second largest political force of the FCC has raised questions. Despite his exclusion, he has demanded the quota of four positions, theoretically allocated to his party, be filled.

This article first appeared in Jeune Afrique.

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