DRC: How Tshisekedi is using Kabund’s downfall to reorganise the ‘Union Sacrée’

By Jeune Afrique
Posted on Monday, 31 January 2022 08:59

Christophe Mboso and Félix Tshisekedi © DRC Presidency

On 24 January, a summit meeting was held at the Fleuve Congo hotel, bringing together the presidents of the various parliamentary groups affiliated with the Union Sacrée. The discussions were led by Prime Minister Sama Lukonde Kyenge, Christophe Mboso Nkodia (president of the National Assembly) and Modeste Bahati Lukwebo (his Senate counterpart).

Augustin Kabuya, secretary-general of the Union pour la Démocratie et le Progrès Social (UDPS), who is close to Jean-Marc Kabund, was also present, although he has remained discreet ever since the latter announced his resignation.

Even though this meeting was officially devoted to presenting the majority’s good wishes, in reality, it was part of a political strategy.

The Union Sacrée’s coordination office

According to our information, one of the items on the agenda was to establish a coordination office within the Union Sacrée. Many members of the presidential majority have complained about the absence of such a structure ever since the coalition was created at the end of 2020. Several leading figures within the head of state’s entourage and the parliamentary majority accuse Kabund of blocking the establishment of this body. According to one of Tshisekedi’s aides, the UDPS’ interim president would prefer to create a parliamentary level structure, to maintain control.

A shadow architect of the Union Sacrée, Kabund played a key role in forming the coalition that succeeded the alliance between Tshisekedi and Joseph Kabila. In particular, he looked after the interests of the members of the Front Commun pour le Congo (FCC, pro-Kabila) that joined the head of state’s camp. Until he announced his resignation on 14 January, Kabund had been responsible for mobilising government members for certain strategic votes and for reframing part of the majority when he had deemed it necessary.

Kabund dismissed in September?

Although Kabund’s personal situation was not on the agenda, he was invited to take part in the debate after a participant asked about the evolution of his case. The first vice-president of the National Assembly’s resignation has so far only been announced informally, on social media and in public, and no procedure has yet been initiated in the lower house to implement it. According to our information, the trio – Christophe Mboso Nkodia, Sama Lukonde Kyenge and Modeste Bahati Lukwebo – felt that this issue should first be handled at the UDPS level and raised the concern that the presidential party might decide to withdraw its confidence in Kabund.

In the absence of such a procedure, the National Assembly will have to initiate a process of impeachment. According to our information, the head of state’s entourage does not want to proceed with this during the March parliamentary session, which will culminate in a discussion about the electoral law – a dossier much awaited by some of Tshisekedi’s allies. They would prefer to delay this until the September session.

The last item at the heart of these discussions was sharing responsibilities for the upcoming elections. First of all, governor elections will take place in 14 provinces. These elections are scheduled for early this year, but no date has yet been set. The presidential camp has expressed its wish to agree, in advance, on a single Union Sacrée ticket for each of the seats, in the hopes of preventing candidates from within the majority from competing with one another. The matter of sharing posts in public enterprises, another source of tension within the Union Sacrée, was also discussed.

With just under two years to go before the presidential election, Tshisekedi wants to take advantage of the situation to reorganise his political camp and increase the number of such meetings.

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