DRC Constitutional Court fight reveals Kabila-Tshisekedi struggle

By Jeune Afrique

Posted on Tuesday, 20 October 2020 11:33
Felix Tshisekedi and Jeanine Mabunda, in 2019.
Felix Tshisekedi and Jeanine Mabunda, in 2019. © DRC Presidency

Félix Tshisekedi could not find agreement with Jeanine Mabunda and Alexis Thambwe Mwamba on the fate of the judges he appointed to the Constitutional Court.

The meeting organized on 12 October with Félix Tshisekedi, at the initiative of the President of the National Assembly, Jeanine Mabunda, and her colleague from the Senate, Alexis Thambwe Mwamba, around the appointment of three judges to the Constitutional Court did not manage to iron out the differences.

According to our information, the office of the head of state referred the matter to parliament several weeks ago in order to prepare for the swearing-in ceremonies of these magistrates, but received no response.

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The three judges were appointed by ordinance by Tshisekedi in July, without consulting the camp of his predecessor Joseph Kabila.

Since then, the Front Commun pour le Changement or FCC (Kabila’s bloc) has continued to denounce these appointments, which it believes were made in violation of the constitution.

Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba, who was supposed to countersign them, was then on the move and represented by a relative of Félix Tshisekedi, the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the Interior, Gilbert Kankonde.

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Two Constitutional Court judges appointed by the head of state to the Court of Cassation are also challenging their departure.

Radical block

Sources inside Félix Tshisekedi’s entourage blame Nehemiah Mwilanya, the coordinator of the FCC, as well as Jeanine Mabunda and Alexis Thambwe Mwamba, for forming a bloc of “radicals” that would block the FCC-Cach (Cape for Change) coalition, or even the application of recent orders issued by the president.

Those close to the Head of State say that the possibility of keeping Nehemiah Mwilanya away from the decision-making spheres at the FCC is being studied at the Palace.

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This is in order to neutralize the personalities judged to be ‘radical’ in the entourage of Tshisekedi and Kabila.

Jean Marc Kabund-a-Kabund, Augustin Kabuya and Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary were thus excluded from the new committee monitoring the agreement between the FCC and the Cach, composed of four negotiators for each camp.

Determined to push through his orders, Felix Tshisekedi secured the support of the judiciary by receiving the office of the Superior Council of the Judiciary on October 14, on the eve of the new judicial year.

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This body discussed with the president the reforms to be carried out in order to be able to guarantee its independence, such as the procedural rules relating to the immunity of MPs and members of the government.

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