Two Years After Vote, Congo’s President Gets His Own Government

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s prime minister formed a new government that shifts the balance of power in the resource-rich country to President Felix Tshisekedi from his predecessor Joseph Kabila, two years after elections.

The announcement marks the formal end to a two-year coalition between Tshisekedi and Kabila that began after Kabila’s political allies won a majority in parliament in a December 2018 vote. Tshisekedi has accused Kabila’s supporters of blocking his agenda to fight endemic corruption, secure a new loan program with the International Monetary Fund, and expand a free education initiative before the next election in 2023.

The slate of ministers was announced Monday on national television by Tshisekedi’s spokesman, Kasongo Mwema Yamba Yamba. The president began advocating for a new so-called “sacred union” coalition last year after his policy reforms were blocked by Kabila allies who dominated parliament and the previous government.

Two Years After Vote, Congo’s President Gets His Own Government

Mwema Yamba Yamba announced newcomer Antoinette N’Samba Kalambayi as the new mines minister, a key position in the country. Congo is the world’s largest source of cobalt and Africa’s biggest copper producer, but the state has failed to benefit from its wealth of natural resources because of endemic corruption. Kalambayi has a degree in domestic law from the University of Kinshasa, according to a book she published in 2016 on Congo’s electoral commission.

Finance Minister

Other notable appointments include:

  • Top Tshisekedi adviser Nicolas Kazadi as finance minister
  • Lawmaker Patrick Muyaya as government spokesman
  • Longtime legislator Christophe Lutundula becomes vice prime minister for foreign affairs
  • Former governor of North Kivu province Julien Paluku is minister of industry
  • Eve Bazaiba, head of the opposition Movement for the Liberation of Congo founded by ex-rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba, becomes vice prime minister for environment.

Prime Minister Sama Lukonde said on Twitter that the average age of the new government was 47, with 27% of the positions held by women and 80% by people who haven’t previously held cabinet posts.

The IMF in September urged the state to increase revenue and improve economic governance as steps toward the nation’s first formal loan program in eight years. The government is also in talks to secure $200 million of budget support from the World Bank.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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