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Unilateral appointment of Bruno Tshibala as PM ‘problematic’-Congolese opposition

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Pres. Joseph Kabila of the DR Congo. He remains in office despite his mandate expiring in December 2016. An agreement between his party and the opposition allow him to remain in office until later this year.

Pres. Joseph Kabila of the DR Congo. He remains in office despite his mandate expiring in December 2016. An agreement between his party and the opposition allow him to remain in office until later this year.

The decision by Congolese president Joseph Kabila to unilaterally appoint Bruno Tshibala as the nation’s new Prime Minister only creates more problems, an official of the nation’s largest opposition party has claimed.

Jean-Marc Kabund, the secretary general of the UDPS party, dismissed the appointment as a non-event that was nonetheless troubling.

“This appointment is not consistent with the [December 31 2016] agreement, which remains the only legal and legitimate framework of the institutions of the Republic,” added Kabund.

Consequently, his party shall strive for the full implementation of the agreement, which gives the opposition the prerogative of nominating a Prime Minister, in addition to calling for elections before the end of this year.

A wedge

The appointment of Bruno Tshibala comes at a point when the opposition coalition is becoming increasingly fractured, and the president may be using it to drive a wedge within the opposition.

UDPS, the main party in the opposition coalition known as Rassemblement, has suffered upheavals in recent months, beginning with the death of its longtime leader, Etienne Tshisekedi, in February.

The realignment of the top leadership positions resulted in Etienne’s son, Felix Tshisekedi, taking over as the leader of the coalition, while Pierre Lumbi, head of the MSR party, became head of an influential body in the coalition, known as the Council of Elders.

Bruno Tshibala was among several UDPS politicians who questioned this succession, and was expelled from the party. His stance against the two seems to be oddly convergent with that of the ruling party, which was opposed to having Felix Tshisekedi as the PM chosen by the opposition, and Pierre Lumbi as the head of the aforementioned Council, as that would automatically place him as the head of the national council that would oversee subsequent elections.

Tshibala’s predecessor, Samy Badibanga, also came from similar circumstances; while he was technically a member of the UDPS, his falling out with the then-leader Etienne Tshisekedi after refusing to honor a parliamentary boycott meant that he was only nominally a member of the opposition.

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