A successful wager / A stab in the back

DRC: President Félix Tshisekedi now free to form a new government

By Romain Gras, Stanis Bujakera Tshiamala

Posted on February 2, 2021 18:18

Firefox_Screenshot_2021-02-02T13-39-33.898Z Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi, November 15, 2019 in Berlin. © Michele Tantussi / Getty Images
Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi, November 15, 2019 in Berlin. © Michele Tantussi / Getty Images

DRC’s Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba officially handed in his resignation and that of his government 48 hours after being dismissed by the National Assembly. President Felix Tshisekedi – who also received the informant Modeste Bahati Lukwebo’s report confirming his new majority – is now free to form a new government.

Received by Félix Tshisekedi in the afternoon of 29 January, the Congolese prime minister officially handed in his resignation.

Dismissed by the National Assembly on 27 January, Ilunkamba – who in principle had 24 hours to leave his post – had initially opted to fight. Challenging the legitimacy of the lower house of the National Assembly to examine the motion of censure against him – which was passed by 367 deputies – the prime minister had initially stated that he did not intend to abandon his duties.

READ MORE DRC lawmakers vote out prime minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba, a key Kabila ally

Reversing his decision the next day, Ilunkamba was waiting to be notified of his dismissal by the Assembly, which was done on Friday. Appointed in May 2019 after intense negotiations between the Congolese president and his former ally Joseph Kabila, Ilunkamba was one of the last men loyal to the former head of state. A month and a half after the fall of Jeanine Mabunda, the prime minister’s dismissal is yet another example of how the balance of power is shifting in favour of Tshisekedi.

The “identified” Sacred Union

A favourable sign that comes with another piece of good news for the Congolese president. On Thursday 28 January, Modeste Bahati Lukwebo – appointed informant on 1 January and charged with building a new majority around the Congolese president – handed over his conclusions to Tshisekedi. This was done at a ceremony held at the Palace of the Nation in Kinshasa, and unsurprisingly the head of state emerged strengthened.

“We were able to identify a majority coalition in the National Assembly within the Sacred Union,” said Lukwebo. Saying that he could count on the support of 24 political groups, he announced that he would give the head of state “the list of 391 national deputies [out of a total of 500] who will constitute this majority.”

Now that he has ridden himself  of his predecessor’s supporters, whom he accused of having obstructed his course of action during the first two years of his term, Tshisekedi can form his government.

All that remains is to nominate candidates to the posts, which could prove delicate. “We must prepare people: there will be many candidates but we can not keep everyone,” said Lukwebo, after his meeting with Tshisekedi.

In the meantime, negotiations regarding the final composition of the National Assembly have been the subject of intense discussions. According to our information, the presidency of the National Assembly – which was coveted by Moïse Katumbi – will go to Christophe Mboso Nkodia Puanga, a defector from the FCC who played a decisive role in the collapse of his former coalition and who has been leading, since the fall of Mabunda, the lower house of the National Assembly.

The Head of State has chosen to entrust the management of the country’s institutions “to those who will not overshadow him, who will be indebted to him and with whom there will be no squabbles,” says a member of his entourage.

READ MORE DRC: Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba, the new Prime Minister

“To prevent his leadership from being weakened by the ongoing institutional crisis, the president will appoint a new prime minister soon,” said our source, adding that this appointment should be announced before Tshisekedi takes over the rotating presidency of the African Union on 7 February.

The appointment of the Katangese Guylain Nyembo Mbwizia to the position of chief of staff, replacing Vital Kamerhe who was sentenced to 20 years in prison, followed the same logic of appeasement.

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