Political divisions after appointment of prime minister rock the Congo

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The president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Joseph Kabila, has named the former leading member his group’s opposition party to the position of prime minister. This move was likely motivated by a desire to resolve ongoing conflicts between these opposition groups, by satisfying his competition, and bring an end to the current political crisis. Still, many fear the move may not be enough to mend the broken ties in the Congo.

For instance, last year, Mr. Kabila failed to meet the terms of a compromise agreement that he had negotiated. Under this agreement, Mr. Kabila was supposed to step down from his position as president to make way for free elections by December of 2016. However, he has broken his end of the deal as he remains in office. There have even been difficulties within the different opposition groups. The other party in the deal with Mr. Kabila was the opposition coalition known as the Rassemblement.

At the time of negotiations, this group’s leader was Etienna Tshisekedi, whose death led to a power struggle over who would take over his role. As of now, the new leader of the Rassemblement is Bruno Tshibala, who is now the acting prime minister after his appointment by Mr. Kabila. Political analyst Israel Mutala believes Tshibala’s appointment will end in disaster in the long-run by actually exacerbating—rather than healing—the political crisis.

The Rassmeblement is only a fring-minority in the opposition group. Now, Mr. Kabila has given this group a large amount of influence, which would lead to increased infighting between the various divisions of the opposition. Mr. Kabila ignored the original language of the deal. Initially, it was intended for the opposition coalition to pick their own prime minister. The appointment is divisive, meaning that the appointment could further delay efforts by a splintered opposition part to organizing an election. The longer these organization efforts take, the longer Mr. Kabila remains. Despite Mr. Kabila’s actions, Tsisekedi’s former advisor, Maitre Peter Kazadi, has expressed the opposition party’s determination for the Congolese people to take charge.

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