Photograph — ENCA

Seven months on from the inauguration of President Felix Tshisekedi, a new coalition government has been formed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the president’s spokesperson announced in the early hours of today.

With a total of 65 spots, the power-sharing agreement sees 23 members of the executive drawn from President Tshisekedi’s Direction For Change party. The remaining 42 are from former leader Joseph Kabila’s Common Front for Congo (FCC) coalition.

Before the members of the new government were announced by the president’s spokesman, Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga in his remarks to reporters said “the government is finally here. The president has signed the decree and we will begin work soon.”

Kabila presided over sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest country for nearly two decades and still holds considerable sway over the country’s politics. During his 18-year rule, the mineral-rich Central African country was largely impoverished. The most recent World Bank estimates put the extreme poverty rate in the DRC at 73 percent in 2018, one of the highest in sub-Saharan Africa.

President Tshisekedi took office in January after emerging victorious in elections that marked the DRC’s first peaceful transition of power since the nation gained independence from Belgium in 1960. However, the December vote was marred by irregularities and several rigging allegations.

The following concurrent legislative elections were won by the FCC, getting 342 of the 485 seats in the DRC’s parliament. Subsequently, Kabila and Tshisekedi issued a joint statement in March confirming “their common will to govern together as part of a coalition government.” The agreement led to the appointment of Ilunga as the new DRC Prime Minister later in May.

Forming the coalition government had taken time as both sides had to “remove everything that could be an obstacle to the functioning of the government”, Ilunga said.

As revealed in the announcement, the mining portfolio went to Willy Samsoni, a former Mines Minister in the local government of one of DRC’s province. Former Director-General of taxes Sele Yalaghuli becomes the new Finance Minister, while Ngoy Mukena, a close ally of Kabila, has been named Defense Minister, Al Jazeera reports.

More so, the executive will have a female Vice Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Planning, Ilunga revealed, adding that around three-quarters of members were serving in government for the first time in what he hailed as an “important innovation”.

Based on the World Poverty Clock projections that the 61 million people currently living under extreme poverty in the DRC are expected to increase to some 70 million by 2030, the new government is expected to get started on fixing the DRC’s economy right away.

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