/ 7 March 2019

Two main DRC parties urge leaders to form coalition government

Tshisekedi assumed office in January
Tshisekedi assumed office in January, taking over from Kabila who had been in power for 18 years. (K. Katombe/Reuters)

The parties of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s new president, Felix Tshisekedi, and his predecessor, Joseph Kabila, on Wednesday urged the two leaders to form a coalition government after weeks of failed talks.

Tshisekedi (55), assumed office in January after a disputed election mired by fraud allegations, taking over from Kabila who had been in power for 18 years.

It was the first orderly transfer of power since the DRC gained independence from Belgium in 1960, but Tshisekedi has found himself effectively having to share power since the December 30 presidential poll.

He has not been able to push through his choice for prime minister as Kabila’s Common Front for Congo (FCC) wields a huge majority in the National Assembly, which also held elections on December 30.

The stalemate has put a brake on Tshisekedi’s declared ambitions of reforming a country marked by corruption and rights abuses.

The FCC has more than two-thirds of the 485 seats while the Heading for Change (Cach) coalition, which backs Tshisekedi, has some 50 members.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, the two parties recognised the parliamentary make-up but said they had a “common will to govern together as part of a coalition government”.

This path would aim to preserve the “achievements of the historic peaceful transfer of power that took place on January 24, 2019 to strengthen the climate of peace and stability of the country… and facilitate the rapid establishment of a government,” they added.

The statement came after Tshisekedi vented his frustration during a visit to Namibia last week at being unable to assemble a majority to back his choice for prime minister. Tshisekedi said he would “not accept being a president who reigns but doesn’t govern”.

The official presidential runner-up, Martin Fayulu, said on Wednesday he would refuse to take his seat as an MP, describing the role as inappropriate for someone who considered himself to be the country’s “elected president”.

Fayulu has repeatedly said the presidential election was rigged, claiming the result was a stitch-up between Tshisekedi and Kabila. He was officially credited with 34.8% of the vote against 38.5% for Tshisekedi.

But Fayulu maintains he picked up around 60% of the vote. “I was elected president of the republic — I cannot fall back to being an MP, never!” he told AFP.

“I am the elected president, and this is what I consider myself to be. I cannot be both the elected president and an MP,” he said.

An aide to Fayulu confirmed that the MP had written to the administration of the National Assembly to say “he will not take his seat as a member for the city of Kinshasa”.

© Agence France-Presse