The prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has resigned, a move that will enable President Felix Tshisekedi to appoint his own prime minister supported by a new parliamentary majority.
Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba was constitutionally required to resign after being censured by the National Assembly on Wednesday.
Keep readinglist of 3 items
He is a close ally to former President Joseph Kabila whose supporters have been locked in a tussle for power with Tshisekedi since he took office two years ago.
Presidency spokesman Giscard Kusema told the AFP news agency that llunga “said he had drawn the consequences of the developing political situation”.
Kusema said it was “too soon” to say when Tshisekedi would appoint the next prime minister.
Ilunga, 73, was appointed by Tshisekedi in May 2019 under a power-sharing deal that he and Kabila struck when handing over the presidency – the first peaceful transition in the DRC’s history.
Kabila’s decision to step down after 18 years in office paved way for elections in December 2018 that were controversially won by Tshisekedi, the son of a veteran opposition leader.
Brawls in Parliament
But on the same polling day, a strong pro-Kabila majority emerged in the National Assembly, preventing Tshisekedi from having a grip on all the political levers of power.
He was forced into a coalition – a leviathan of a government with 65 ministers, two-thirds of whom was from the pro-Kabila Common Front for the Congo (FCC).
Tensions swiftly grew and erupted into the open last year when Tshisekedi declared his reform agenda was being blocked.
On December 6, he announced the end to the coalition and said he planned to seek a new government supported by the National Assembly, a move that sparked brawls in Parliament.
On Wednesday, a motion of censure against Ilunga and his government was approved by 367 out of 377 members of Parliament present in the 500-seat legislature.
Tshisekedi’s proposed “Sacred Union of the Nation” now wields support from 391 legislators, according to an envoy, Senator Modeste Bahati, who was appointed to try to forge a majority.