Category Archives: DRC

DRC – Nearly a no-confidence motion

The president of the Democratic Republic of Congo is Joseph Kabila. He heads the People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD). At the 2011 legislative election, the PPRD itself won only 69 of the 500 seats in parliament. It was the biggest party, but no fewer than 23 parties won at least 5 seats in the legislature. There were also many independents.

The government is headed by Augustin Matata Ponyo also of the PPRD. As far as I understand it, the large cabinet (more than 40 members) has representatives of different parties in it. More generally, there is a rather amorphous ‘presidential majority’ that is kept together by patronage and social ties rather than by party identification or ideology. This majority supports the government in the legislature.

However, as Digital Congo reports, recently a member of the opposition l’Union pour la nation congolaise (UNC) party, Jean-Baudouin Mayo Mambeke, was able to gather enough signatures to table a vote of no-confidence in the prime minister. The constitution requires one quarter of all deputies (125) to sign the motion in order for a vote to be held. In the end, 147 signatures were collected. The motion was lodged with the office of the National Assembly and was scheduled to be debated yesterday.

However, when it came to the plenary session, it transpired that 42 deputies had subsequently ‘withdrawn’ their signatures, leaving only 95. This meant that the motion could not be put and so it was never debated. There are reports of pressure put on the deputies to withdraw their names and in the end sufficient numbers decided to do so.

For me, this story is interesting in the way that the Peru post was recently. In one way, along with a directly elected president a motion of no-confidence is the most telling sign that a country is semi-presidential. Even if it fails, at least it signals that the government is accountable to the legislature.

In the DRC, even though the motion of no-confidence was never tabled, it very nearly was. The government was clearly worried about it being held. And, who knows? Maybe the motion will hasten the eventual departure of the prime minister.

DRC – New PM

The Democratic Republic of Congo has a new prime minister. He is Augustin Matata Ponyo. He was previously the Finance Minister. He is from the People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (Parti du Peuple pour la Reconstruction et la Démocratie (PPRD), which is President Kabila’s party.

The full list of government ministers in French is available here. The main news is that the number of ministers has declined from 46 to 36. In addition, there seem to be more technocrats in the government than had been envisaged previously. There is a report at Jeune Afrique here.

DRC – Formateur appointed

In the Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila has appointed a government formateur with a view to the appointment of a new prime minister following the recent legislative elections. The formateur is Mwando Nsimba.

Given the highly fragmented nature of the party groups in parliament and rivalries within the presidential majority camp, the formation of a stable government will be difficult and will presumably result in a large number of ministers. The formateur has a month to complete the process.

The appointment of an official formateur is standard in a lot of parliamentary systems. In the DRC case, it makes a lot of sense because of the fragmented nature of party groups in parliament and also because DRC has a premier-presidential system. So, the president needs to maximise influence prior to the appointment of the PM, not having the power to dismiss the PM thereafter.

That said, I don’t recall the formateur process being common under semi-presidentialism. In Slovenia recently, the (figurehead) president acted as a de facto formateur. If there are other examples of semi-presidential formateurs, then do please let me know.

DRC – Legislative election

In the Democratic Republic of Congo presidential and legislative elections were held on 28 November 2011. Joseph Kabila was re-elected as president, even though the results was contested. Indeed, Etienne Tshisekedi, the second candidate, has declared himself president, trying to set up a parallel administration in the hope of recognition by the international community.

Anyway, the results of the legislative election were even more contested. the Electoral Commission took until earlier this month to announce the results. Even now, the exact figures are difficulty to identify. However, Jeune Afrique gives some information.

The report states that parties and candidate that support Joseph Kabila have won 341 of the 500 seats. The main opposition party is the Union pour la démocratie et le progrès social (UDPS) of Etienne Tshisekedi. The UPDS has 42 seats. Then, there is the Mouvement pour la Liberation du Congo (MPLC) of Jean-Pierre Bemba with 22 seats. Also, the Union pour la nation congolaise (UNC) of Vital Kamerhe has 16 seats.

So, even though the presidential majority comprises a rather disparate group, it does give the president a strong legislative base. Moreover, the opposition is also divided and will find it difficult to mount a strong challenge.

 

DRC – Presidential election

In the Democratic Republic of Congo presidential and legislative elections were held on 28 November. The announcement of the results was delayed a number of times, heightening tensions. The result has now been released. Here are the figures reported by DigitalCongo:

Joseph Kabila – 48.95%
Etienne Tshisekedi (Union for Democracy and Social Progress – UDPS) – 32.33%
Vital Kamerh (union for the Congolese Nation), 7.74%
Kengo wa Dondo – 4.35%

Regular readers will remember that there was a constitutional amendment earlier in the year that changed the system from a two-ballot to a single-ballot system. So, the incumbent president, Joseph Kabila, has been re-elected.

There are already accusation of fraud. There is a report from the International Crisis Group here.

DRC – Attempted coup

There was an attempted coup in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday. Jeune Afrique reports that President Joseph Kabila’s convoy was attacked as was one of his private residences. There were a number of casualties on both sides, but the president was safe and unharmed.

The most recent analysis of the events from Kinshasa is favouring the idea that the attacks were part of a wider ‘terrorist’ plot that targeted various other places as well. The report suggests that the attacks may have been part of an attempt by opposition forces to destabilise the country and Kabila before the presidential elections that are scheduled for later this year.

DRC – Constitutional amendment

There has been a controversial amendment to the constitution in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The text of the changes are available in French here.

The key change is that the presidential election will now be held on the basis of a single-ballot plurality system rather than the previous two-round system. This reform is thought to help the prospects of the incumbent president, Joseph Kabila. An additional reform allows the president to decide whether or not to submit a constitutional amendment to a referendum.

The constitutional reform, particularly the electoral aspect, was very divisive. It was passed by a parliamentary congress, comprising senators and deputies. The vote was 485 in favour, 8 against and 11 abstentions. However, opposition parties boycotted the vote. There are 608 deputies and senators in total.

DRC – Cabinet reshuffle

There has been a major cabinet reshuffle in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Digitalcongo.net provides the text of the ordonnance with the names of the new ministers.

The Prime Minister, Adolphe Muzito, has been reconfirmed in his position. The government remains a coalition that is dominated by President Joseph Kabila’s PPRD party and the PM’s PALU party. In addition, there are representatives of smaller parties including the MSR, PANU, UDEMO and the ARC.

The main change is that the size of the government has been reduced. There are now only 43 ministers rather than 54. Elections are scheduled for 2011.

DRC – Déjà vu all over again

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, La Conscience reports, via RFI, that President Kabila has appointed a commission to evaluate various reforms to the 2006 constitution (available here in French). The existence of a commission has been denied by the DRC authorities.

According to the report, the commission is evaluating three proposals: the shelving of further decentralisation reforms, the proposition that the president should have a seat on the Higher Council of the Judiciary, and, wait for it, the idea that the president’s term should be extended to seven years and that term limits should be abolished.

This latter proposal is reminiscent of what seems to be a general trend in a lot of Central Asian, African and Latin American countries (in presidential regimes there).

Rather like the situation in Niger earlier this year, the idea of abolishing presidential term limits contradicts Art. 220 of the 2006 constitution, which explicitly indicates that term limits cannot be abolished by constitutional reform.

We know what happened in Niger. Let’s hope that the commission is indeed a fabrication, or that it decides not to address the issue of term limits.

DRC – New PM

President Kabila has appointed a new prime minister to succeed Antoine Gizenga. He has chosen Adolphe Muzito. Crucially, Muzito is from the PALU party, which indicates that the accord between Kabila’s AMP and PALU still holds. The UDEMO party is likely to be given the position of Vice PM or Minister of State, something which again would be consistent with the agreement.

Mr Muzito was the Budget Minister in the outgoing government.

The new prime minister and the president will now work to nominate a new government. So, in response to the constitutional crisis that was brewing over what appeared to be Prime Minister Gizenga’s individual resignation, it would appear as if the government has been taken to have resigned collectively as well.

The government is currently facing a serious outbreak of violence in the east of the country near the Rwanda border. The rebellion is led by General Laurent Nkunda.