DRC: Tshisekedi-Kabila, the story of an inevitable break

The political alliance between Congo's President, Féelix Tshisekedi and his predecessor, Joseph Kabila has been shaky for nearly two months.After…

The political alliance between Congo’s President, Féelix Tshisekedi and his predecessor, Joseph Kabila has been shaky for nearly two months.After two years of companionship and sharing of executive and parliamentary powers, Felix Tshisekedi wants to continue his journey, far from his “cumbersome” ally. Although it was a marriage of convenience to begin with, the divorce is now consummated, according to several observers.

“No one has officially proclaimed the end of the FCC-CACH coalition, even though all the signals are red. Several facts attest to this,” notes Mathieu Yoha, a Congolese journalist based in Kinshasa, the nation’s capital.

The censure motion against the pro-Kabila Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba, tabled last Friday by 301 MPs, seems to be the last major act, which testifies to the great unease between the two camps: the ‘Cap pour le Changement’ (CACH), an alliance between Felix Tshisekedi and Vital Kamerhe, and the ‘Front Commun pour le Congo’ (FCC) of former President Joseph Kabila.

The procedure for the dismissal of Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba was initiated by Cherubin Okende, an MP of ‘Ensemble Pour le Changement’, the platform of Moise Katumbi, a former opponent of the Kabila regime.

After his refusal to resign, the parliamentarians “decided to see (their) process through to the end.” The head of government, however, did not respond to the plenary session convened in this regard at the National Assembly on Tuesday January 26, 2021.

Scuffles, destitutions…

National Assembly Speaker, Jeanine Mabunda, another Kabila loyalist, was already overthrown on Thursday (December 10) after being accused by those close to President Tshisekedi, of “partisan leadership”. Some 281 MPs against 200 endorsed her destitution, tilting the majority of the parliament in favor of the head of state, amid tension that had been high at the Parliament since the second week of December.

Scenes of fights pitted supporters of Tshisekedi and supporters of Kabila for several days, and offices and furniture were destroyed. Three people were injured in the clashes. The Police had to intervene, using tear gas to disperse the crowd outside the hemicycle.

Also read: RDC: Sylvestre Ilunga could be fired any time

On December 6, President Tshisekedi moved one step closer to breaking up. In a speech broadcast by the public channel RTNC, he denounced the fact that “the coalition government instituted the day after the political change of regime, which took place in January 2019, did not allow the implementation of the program for which it was brought to the highest office and that, on the other hand, he was not able to meet the expectations and aspirations of his people.”

He then announced the appointment of an official to build a new majority at the National Assembly, knowing that it was dominated by his predecessor. Tshisekedi appointed Modeste Bahati Lukwebo, a senator and businessman who was very close to Joseph Kabila until last year, as “informant.”

 A “Skillful” Tshisekedi

This decision testifies to an “unsuspected political skill” on the part of the 50-year-old president, Pierre Jacquemot, former French ambassador in the DRC and researcher at IRIS says on France Culture.

“He was able to turn around a situation that was extremely unfavorable to him since his election in 2018. He simply turned over some of the parliamentarians, but also practically all the governors of the regions who were at the beck and call of former president Kabila,” he analyzes. The latter has not yet reacted publicly, but this silence comes as no surprise to journalist Mathieu Yoha.

“In nearly 18 years in power, Kabila has not held more than 15 press conferences. It is not now that he will start to speak. He often spoke through former Minister Lambert Mende, now close to Tshisekedi, and through Ambassador Kikaya Bin Karubi on social networks,” he recalls.

Also read: RDC’s Tshisekedi at the crossroads

He also insists that a “rapprochement is always possible in politics, but for the moment, Tshisekedi is more concerned with (consolidating) his new majority at the National Assembly with renegade MPs from the FCC” of the former president.

Either way, Mr. Yoha is convinced that the tension between the two politicians is not benefiting the Congolese people. “Whoever wins the confrontation will be able to reap the benefits to manage the public treasury alone and to prepare calmly for the upcoming elections. For the Congolese people, the saying is still valid according to which when two elephants fight, it is the surrounding grass that suffers.”.