Category Archives: DRC


DRC – Controversy over PM

In a previous post, I reported the resignation of Prime Minister Antoine Gizenga of the Democratic Republic of Congo. His successor has yet to be appointed and the situation has sparked a fierce constitutional and political debate.

If you read French, then the constitutional debate is summed up on the Constitution en Afrique site. Basically, Article 78 of the 2006 constitution states that the President ends the PM’s function when the PM presents the resignation of the government. However, Prime Minister Gizenga presented only his resignation and not the resignation of his government. Therefore, arguably, he acted unconstitutionally.

The political debate is quite different. President Kabila has hinted that he will appoint a PM from his own AMP party. However, on 30 September 2006 the AMP signed an agreement with Gizenga’s PALU party whereby PALU would hold the office of PM throughout the term of the legislature. Therefore, there is a concern that President Kabila is reneging on the deal. Obviously, this eventuality risks bringing about the standard political consequences, but it might also threaten the delicate regional and ethnic balance that has operated since late 2006.

Historic cases of semi-presidentialism – Zaire

I suppose it depends whether you knew about something in the first place and how long your memory is, but Zaire might qualify as a case of forgotten semi-presidentialism.

Some of my documents are not with me, but Zaire adopted a new Constitution (and a new name for the country) in 1971. As far as I remember, the 1971 constitution was, nominally, extant until 1997. There were numerous amendments during this time and at times there were competing constitutions issued by other participants in the armed crisis.

Anyway, in 1977 the position of prime minister was created. At that time, though, and thereafter, Zaire was officially a one-party state under the rule of President Mobutu Sese Seko. Constitutionally, therefore, Zaire was not semi-presidential in that the president was not selected on the basis of a direct competitive election.

In 1990 the one-party state came to an end, the constitution was amended and Zaire became semi-presidential.

The text of the constitution is available here. It is a classic French-style semi-presidential constitution, though the powers of the president are greater than in the French version largely because the constitution was amended rather than written anew.

In May 1997 President Mobutu lost power to Laurent-Désiré Kabila. President Kabila issued a decree that abolished the post of prime minister.

There is a sense in which Zaire was in such a state of war and near anarchy for part of the period 1990-97 that it is somewhat misleading to say it was constitutionally semi-presidential for at least some if not all of this period. For example, Polity has classed Zaire/Congo-Kinshasa as anarchic (-77) from 1992. However, to the extent that President Mobutu operated under his constitution and the constitution was semi-presidential, then Zaire should be classed as semi-presidential for the period 1990-97.

Obviously, with the passage of the new Constitution in 2006 the Democratic Republic of Congo has become semi-presidential again. Prime Minister Gizenga, the first PM under the new semi-presidential system has just resigned. News about his as-yet-unannounced successor will be posted here soon.

DRC – PM resigns

Prime Minister Antoine Gizenga of the Democratic Republic of Congo has resigned. This possibility had been mooted for a while (see previous post), but it finally happened on Thursday last.

Prime Minister Gizenga, who is 83, was vice-prime minister under Lumumba in 1960. In his resignation statement, he said that he was feeling under physical strain because of his age.

Jeuneafrique reports that the resignation came just after the IMF reported that it was satisfied with the government’s economic performance. However, there are new security problems in parts of the country, problems with public sector salaries and social unrest.

A motion of no confidence in the government had been expected for some time.

DRC – PM about to resign? is reporting that Prime Minister Gizenga of the Democratic Republic of Congo may be forced to resign.

Prime Minister Gizenga was appointed on 30 December 2006. He is the first prime minister under DRC’s new semi-presidential constitution. He is a member of the PALU party, which is in coalition with President Kabila’s PPRD party. There are 500 seats in the DRC parliament and there are a host of parties and independents. (See African Elections).

There is tension within Prime Minister Gizenga’s PALU party, which voted to expel one of its ministers in defiance of the prime minister. The minister who was expelled is close to Prime Minister Gizenga. This means that either the prime minister continues in office in a weak position or tries to take on the party. Names of prime ministerial successors have already started to circulate.