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DRC: Vital Kamerhe remains powerful despite jail sentence

By Stanis Bujakera Tshiamala
Posted on Monday, 26 April 2021 11:38

Vital Kamerhe and DRC’s President Félix Tshisekedi on 23 November 2018 in Nairobi. ASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP

Despite his prison sentence, DRC’s President Félix Tshisekedi’s former chief of staff Vital Kamerhe has nevertheless ensured the survival of his party by securing five ministry positions within the country’s new government. He has demonstrated determination in his negotiations with Tshisekedi.

“Congratulations to my comrades in the UNC who have been appointed ministers of state, ministers and deputy ministers in the government. I also wish to offer my congratulations to Nicole Bwatshia, who has been appointed deputy director of the head of state’s cabinet.”

On the evening of 14 April, the DRC’s President Félix Tshisekedi’s former chief of staff Vital Kamerhe broke his silence from his room at Nganda Hospital, where he was admitted for treatment. Two days earlier, the composition of Prime Minister Sama Lukonde Kyenge’s government had been announced, and the former chief of staff was savouring the moment. He had managed to ensure the survival of his party, the Union pour la Nation Congolaise (UNC), which will be well represented in both the government and presidential cabinet.

Kinshasa-watcher are puzzled: how did Kamerhe’s UNC, which has 16 MPs, manage to secure five ministerial positions: Budget, Land affairs, Culture, Small and medium-sized enterprises as well as a vice-ministerial position within the Justice Department?

It is only one less than Moïse Katumbi’s platform Ensemble pour le Changement, which has 70 MPs, and two more than Jean-Pierre Bemba’s Mouvement de Libération du Congo (MLC), which has 17 MPs and secured three ministry positions.