by Jean Damascène Hakuzimana

Tshisekedi breaks with Kabila’s coalition, gains new parliamentary allies

On December 6, two years after his controversial presidential victory, President Felix Tshisekedi announced a break with former President Joseph Kabila’s parliamentary group Common Front for Congo, which holds the majority in parliament. The move was aimed at gaining control of government so that he can implement his agenda. During his highly anticipated speech he warned of the possibility of dissolving parliament if he did not get the majority that he needs to have his national agenda implemented.

Over the course of the intervening month, Felix Tshisekedi has succeeded in pushing parliament to depose the speaker, Jeannine Mabunda, who had the ear of former President Joseph Kabila, and had been blocking President Tshisekedi’s agenda. Now that the speaker is voted out, Tshisekedi is moving on building a coalition from Kabila’s allies, who control parliament, so that he can claim the majority in the chamber. Jeune Afrique reports that some members of congress from Kabila’s Coalition are showing interest in joining Tshisekedi’s camp, and are attending meetings organized by his party. Tshisekedi is making moves to topple Prime Minister Slyvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba, an ally of former President Kabila.

Tshisekedi was declared president in January 2019 after beating rival Martin Fayulu in elections. Kabila’s hand-selected candidate, Ramazan Shadry, came in third behind Fayulu. Election analysts said that the invisible hand of then-outgoing Kabila made sure Tshisekedi beat out Fayulu once he saw that his candidate was not winning. Kabila prevented two heavyweight candidates, Moise Katumbi and Jean Pierre Bemba, from running.

On December 8, during the plenary session following the December 6 break with Kabila, fights erupted, and furniture was vandalized. Al Jazeera reported that members of parliament were caught on camera overturning desks in frustration at the announcement of the president’s break with Kabila’s coalition, which controls 300 of the 500 seats – a number that enables them to block any presidential move.

Tshisekedi has vowed to apply the parliament dissolution prerogative as a last resort, only if he is otherwise unable to build a majority. Al Jazeera reports that the African Union has urged the continent’s leaders to work in harmony to maintain peace and stability in DR Congo.