6, April 2017
Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Joseph Kabila on Wednesday pledged to appoint a new prime minister in the next two days, in line with a stalled December peace deal struck with the opposition. “The prime minister will absolutely have to be named within 48 hours,” Kabila said in a much-awaited speech to MPs and senators on the state of a December 31 power-sharing agreement, yet to be implemented. The deal brokered by the influential Catholic Church aimed to avoid a full-blown crisis in the vast restive nation following Kabila’s failure to step down at the end of his second and final mandate mid-December. It enabled Kabila to remain in office pending elections in late 2017 in tandem with a transitional body and a new premier, to be chosen within opposition ranks.
But putting the deal in place hit a major hurdle in early February with the death of veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, who had gathered together the opposition in a coalition. In his speech in the capital, Kinshasa, Kabila urged the opposition group “to overcome its internal squabbles” and to hand him a list of candidates for the post of prime minister. Kabila has run one of the world’s least developed countries since the 2001 assassination of his father Laurent. Violence has flared across the country of 71 million people in recent months however, amid fears of a continued delay in this year’s promised elections.