Congo President Seeks New Majority to End Government Crisis

Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi said he’ll seek to form a new governing majority amid growing tension with the political allies of his predecessor, Joseph Kabila, that have left the country in what he called a state of “persistent crisis.”

Tshisekedi’s announcement, broadcast nationwide on Sunday, is his most recent attempt to break with Kabila, whose supporters still control the Senate and National Assembly, as well as most provincial assemblies and governorships. The two longtime opponents formed a governing coalition after a disputed election in 2018 in which another opposition politician, Martin Fayulu, initially claimed victory.

In recent months, disputes between supporters of the two men have paralyzed the government, which is struggling to deal with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The coalition “has not succeeded in avoiding a situation of persistent crisis and unacceptable distrust between the republic’s institutions,” Tshisekedi said. “The current parliamentary majority having crumbled, a new majority is needed.”

Judicial Fight

Kabila’s Common Front for the Congo party said Monday it noted Tshisekedi’s announcement and invited members of the president’s Cap pour le Changement, known as CACH, to “withdraw from the central government and provincial institutions.”

Tension between the two men came to a head in October, when three judges considered loyal to Tshisekedi were installed in the country’s top court. Kabila’s supporters called the appointments unconstitutional and boycotted the inauguration.

After the bitter judicial fight, Tshisekedi launched several weeks of consultations with political, religious and civil society leaders inside and outside the country to rally support.

“These consultations highlighted, by an overwhelming majority, the rejection of the coalition” currently governing the country, the president said.

Tshisekedi’s attempt to create a parliamentary majority will likely lead to a legal battle for control of the government and parliament between the current and former president, Fred Bauma of the Congo Research Group at New York University said by text message from Goma in eastern Congo.

”There are many obstacles in the procedural rules of the national assembly, obstacles that could block deputies from changing political camps in the middle of their mandates,” he said. “We are far from seeing the end of the political crisis.”

Last week, leaders from both the United Nations and African Union urged Congo’s government to resolve the political impasse peacefully, with the chairman of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, meeting with both Tshisekedi and Kabila in the capital, Kinshasa.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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