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However, when it came to the plenary session, it transpired that 42 deputies had subsequently ‘withdrawn’ their signatures, leaving only 95.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.

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