President Felix Tshisekedi has named the head of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) state mining company as the new prime minister, capping a series of political victories over his once-dominant predecessor, Joseph Kabila.
The appointment on Monday of Sama Lukonde Kyenge, the director general of Gecamines and ally of the president, should help Tshisekedi install a more loyal cabinet to push through his agenda.
Former Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba, a close confidant of Kabila, resigned from the post on January 28 following a vote of no confidence in the country’s parliament.
It came amid an intensifying power struggle that saw Tshisekedi announcing in December he wanted to break free of a power-sharing deal with Kabila he had entered in the aftermath of a widely disputed election about two years ago.
The incumbent’s bid to remove Kabila’s camp from the DRC’s institutions notched up its first win on December 10, when MPs removed the National Assembly’s pro-Kabila speaker, Jeanine Mabunda.
The awkward alliance, which forced Tshisekedi to bargain with his predecessor over any policy shift, added to challenges facing his government, such as corruption and spiralling violence in the mineral-rich east.