Joseph Kabila, ex-president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, may have gone once too often to the cookie jar, taking back one by one all of the powers and rights earned by his successor from a recent election, Felix Tshisekedi.
President Tshisekedi may have have had enough.
After a disputed vote that gave the former president’s allies an overwhelming majority in the upper house of parliament – 80 out of 100 seats – while the actual president’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress party (UDPS) gained only three – the newly-named senators were blocked from taking office in a surprise move by President Tshisekedi.
Earlier, Kabila’s coalition claimed to have won about 70 percent of seats in the lower house of parliament and a clear majority of provincial assembly seats.
The decision not to seat the parliamentarians could trigger a confrontation with ex-president Kabila’s camp two months after Tshisekedi succeeded him in the DRC’s first ever transfer of power via the ballot box since the country became independent in 1960.
After an inter-ministerial meeting, acting interior minister Basile Olongo said Tshisekedi was “suspending the senators’ induction” and postponing elections for provincial governors, due on March 26, until further notice.
He also asked prosecutors to “open inquiries into ingrained corruption” among elected officials.
“Senators and provincial deputies, those who corrupt and those are corrupted… (must be) severely punished,” the president was quoted as saying.
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s upper house is elected indirectly by the country’s provincial assemblies — a process that critics say is notorious for kickbacks.
Tshisekedi’s inauguration on Jan. 24 was also not without controversy. It followed elections that were marred by widespread irregularities and allegations by the country’s powerful clergy that another opposition candidate, Martin Fayulu, was the real winner.
Kabila’s camp has criticized the decision of President Tshisekedi, setting the stage for a bitter confrontation. w/pix of J. Kabila (l) and F. Tshisekedi