Rebels from Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region have announced that they are releasing more than 4,200 prisoners of war, almost two months after ... they agreed to observe a “humanitarian truce” declared by the federal government.
As far as Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary is concerned, there is a before and an after. The before was the few months preceding the election of 2018. After finally deciding that he wouldn’t run again, Joseph Kabila made him his successor. Between August and December, the permanent secretary of the Parti du Peuple pour la Reconstruction et la Démocratie (PPRD) began to dream of the presidency that the raïs did not seem to want to give up. He didn’t care that gossipers were already saying that he would merely serve as the former head of state’s puppet, as he was very close to fulfilling his goal.
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The aftermath was endless days of contention that followed 9 January 2019, and the proclamation of the results by the Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante (Ceni). Officially, Shadary came in third place behind Félix Tshisekedi and Martin Fayulu. Both the Lamuka coalition’s candidate and Ramazani were convinced that they were robbed of victory. However, the latter is much less audible and few people support him.
During the first few months, Ramazani kept a low profile. He only came out of the woodwork once the coalition formed by Tshisekedi and Kabila realised that they had irreconcilable differences. In January 2020, Ramazani made himself known by declaring that his party was prepared to paralyse the country if anything untoward happened to the chairman of Gécamines’ board of directors, Albert Yuma, who was involved in an embezzlement case.
On 27 June 2020, he was back in the spotlight. Sporting a black suit and waving a threatening index finger, he hammered home a message to overexcited activists. “I say, we cannot be intimidated!” he said. The day before, he had obtained the release of Celestin Tunda Ya Kasende, the PPRD’s justice minister. The latter had been arrested by the police after writing to parliament, to Tshisekedi’s great displeasure, to ask the legislators – without informing the government – to approve a series of judicial reforms that had been proposed by his political family.
We will continue until the incompetents understand that the people want to take charge.
Since then, the break between the Front Commun pour le Congo (FCC), of which the PPRD is a part of, and Cap pour le Changement (Cach, Tshisekedi’s coalition) has been consummated. Additionally, Shadary, who was a member of the committee in charge of monitoring the agreement between the two entities, did not relent.
“We will continue until the incompetents understand that the people want to take charge,” he said on 6 November during a demonstration. “Incompetent people like that are political microbes! [This is a] dictatorship that we have never known, a dictatorship that exceeds that of Mobutu.” Later, reacting to the head of state’s numerous trips abroad, he said: “We demand that he stop travelling. He needs to take care of his people!”
However, Shadary is being increasingly challenged within the PPRD. A senior party member has reproached him for both “his inflammatory remarks [and] his lack of strategy”.
In close collaboration with Kabila
Although he refused to answer our questions, Shadary’s entourage does try to minimise these divisions. “They are the only normal expression of democracy within the party,” says one of them. “The permanent secretary remains serene.”
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Our interviewee assures us that Kabila still trusts his former successor, despite the setbacks and defeats. “Ramazani is convinced that he [polled] ahead of Felix Tshisekedi at the end of the December 2018 elections. President Kabila put all his weight behind the fact that, in the end, things happened as they did,” he says. “He was the one who pushed for him to be present when an agreement was reached with Tshisekedi and for him to be present on the day when power was transferred. Shadary, on the other hand, thought that Tshisekedi should have been his prime minister.” However, the relationship between the former president and the man to whom he officially entrusted his party’s keys has not suffered. “Now as in the past, they are working closely together for the upcoming elections,” says a source close to Ramazani.
Weakened by the departure of several of its leaders who joined the Union Sacrée (set up once the FCC-Cach coalition had ended), the PPRD and FCC are still trying to figure out how best to approach the 2023 elections. According to our information, the party does not intend to cooperate with the current Ceni, which is considered too close to power, during the elections. “There will be confrontation if Tshisekedi wants to force things,” says a PPRD official.
Even though consultations have also been launched internally, Kabila has not yet made a decision and the reorganisation of the troops is still pending. “The president no longer relies on the old class, he wants renewal,” says someone who has access to him. Could Shadary end up paying the price? “He may not have a clear role within the FCC, but he will still be in the PPRD,” says one of his supporters. In the meantime, he remains the party’s standard-bearer. In early March, he appointed several executive secretaries in the provinces. Last December, he decided to exclude Didi Manara on the grounds that he had agreed to become the Ceni’s second vice-president without the party’s knowledge.
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