Photograph — New African Magazine

Following recent talks in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), newly elected president Felix Tshisekedi and his predecessor Joseph Kabila have announced an agreement to form a coalition government.

Unable to push through his choice for prime minister, the president has to share power as Kabila’s Common Front for Congo (FCC) wields a huge majority in the National Assembly. The FCC has 342 of the 485 seats while only around 50 are members of the CACH, the bloc representing Tshisekedi.

“Although the FCC holds an absolute majority in the National Assembly, to reflect the will of the people expressed in the poll, the FCC and the CACH are affirming their common will to govern together as part of a coalition government,”  read a joint statement released by both leaders on Wednesday. 

Since Tshisekedi’s election, the president has been unable to assemble a majority to back his choice for prime minister, leading to a coalition government. The stalemate has put a brake on his declared ambitions of reforming the country ridden by corruption and human rights abuses.

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,” it added.

Vote manipulation claims

The January vote was the first peaceful transition of power since the Democratic Republic of Congo gained independence from Belgium in 1960. However there have been repeated accusations of election rigging particularly from presidential runner-up Martin Fayulu.

The presidential candidate, who claims the outcome of the election was manipulated by Tshisekedi and Kabila, reiterated his stand on Wednesday. He said he would refuse to take his seat as a Member of Parliament (MP), and described the role as inappropriate for someone who considered himself to be the country’s “elected president.”

Maintaining he picked up around 60 percent of the vote as against the 34 percent credited to him, Fayulu has written to the administration of the National Assembly. He also stated that he will not take his seat as a member for the city of Kinshasa, an aide to the MP confirmed.

“I am the elected president, and this is what I consider myself to be. I cannot be both the elected president and an MP,” Fayulu said. His claims of flaws in the elections have been backed by the powerful Catholic church, which deployed 40,000 election observers, and the European Union.

While questions continue to trail Tshisekedi’s win, there are indications the new president might not have the independence to bring about the desired reforms to the country as the shadow of Kabila lingers over his victory, and more importantly, his administration.

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