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DRC: opposition at loggerheads over parliamentary posts

By Romain Gras
Posted on Friday, 18 October 2019 14:38, updated on Monday, 21 October 2019 10:26

Opposition leaders Moïse Katumbi (left) and Jean-Paul Bemba (right). © Photomontage JA/Photos: Johanna de Tessières/Collectif Huma; Francisco Seco/AP/SIPA

The opposition groups of Moïse Katumbi and Jean-Pierre Bemba have called on their leaders to resolve an internal dispute.

The divvying up of parliamentary posts is putting a strain on relationships within the opposition.

  • At the beginning of October, the opposition was awarded the leadership of three of the ten parliamentary commissions (the socio-cultural commission, the town planning and infrastructure commission, and the human rights commission).
  • It also received the post of deputy rapporteur in the Bureau of the Assembly.

It is the latter that is at the centre of the tug of war between the MS-G7 and AMK-AL – two parties from Moïse Katumbi’s platform Ensemble pour le Changement – and Jean-Pierre Bemba’s MLC. These three groups represent the main opposition forces in the lower house: MS-G 7 has 39 deputies, AMK 30 and MLC 29.

Leaders must decide

At the end of the negotiations, the three parties released a joint statement in which the MLC said it was seeking the position of deputy rapporteur in the Assembly to “compensate for the position held in the Senate by Ensemble pour le Changement“.

In the same statement, MS-G7 counters that argument, saying that “regardless of the election of one of its members to the position of deputy rapporteur in the Senate office”, the position in the lower house “should automatically go to the party with the largest numerical weight in the Assembly”.

“There is no notion of compensation: the rule is political weight, period. The figures are clear. Going beyond that is just greed,” says one member of Ensemble.

Noting the failure of their discussions in the statement, the chairs of the three parliamentary groups appeal to their respective leaders to resolve the dispute.

Opposition in search of a spokesman

The duel between the Bemba and Katumbi camps does not stop there. Another issue is stirring up Lamuka, as the opposition coalition is known: the appointment of the opposition spokesman.

Provided for in a law of 4 December 2007, this position was supposed to be filled within 30 days of the government’s investiture on 7 September.

  • Under former president Joseph Kabila, the position was never really filled. However, according to the 2007 law, the opposition spokesman must be “appointed by consensus, failing which, by majority vote in two rounds by MPs and senators who are members of the political opposition”.
  • The elected representatives of the opposition in parliament must meet under the joint facilitation of the National Assembly and the Senate, “at the written request of any parliamentary or political group of the political opposition”.

In a letter sent on 1 October, six days before the deadline, the chairman of the MS-G7 group, Bienvenu Aplata, wrote to the speakers of the two chambers requesting that the appointment process be initiated. So far, nothing has been done.

La Dynamique pour la Vérité des Urnes, the movement led by Martin Fayulu, has strongly criticised the ongoing negotiations within the opposition. “In the face of the legitimacy crisis arising from the electoral putsch of December 2018, which must be resolved at all costs, La Dynamique pour la Vérité des Urnes observes that the law on the status of the opposition is ineffective, just as it was after the electoral chaos of 2006 and 2011,” it said in a statement.

Fayulu’s supporters describe it as “a sham” and “a clumsy attempt to legitimise Félix Tshisekedi”.

This article first appeared in Jeune Afrique.

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