Felix Tshisekedi - Democratic Republic of Congo

Congo’s prime minister announced a new government on Monday, eight months after President Felix Tshisekedi won an election, with around two thirds of posts going to allies of former president Joseph Kabila. In the long-delayed election last December, Tshisekedi defeated a candidate officially backed by Kabila, whose own term limit was up, though opposition politicians said the result was rigged in a secret deal between Kabila’s and Tshisekedi’s camps.

They said the deal involved Kabila officially stepping down but maintaining control, a charge they both denied.

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The cabinet list released by Prime Minister Illunga Illunkamba on Monday consisted mostly of people with little or no government experience. Of the 65 ministers named, 42 were from Kabila’s coalition and 23 were from Tshisekedi’s.

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As well as retaining outsized influence over various security agencies, Kabila’s Common Front for Congo (FCC) coalition won about 70 percent of seats in the lower house of parliament and an overwhelming majority of provincial assembly seats in elections also held on Dec. 30.

Kabila had always been expected to have a big say in the government of Democratic Republic of Congo, a vast, mineral-rich central African country of about 80 million people which he had been in charge of since the death of his father, Laurent, in 2001.

In May, Tshisekedi named Ilukamba, a close Kabila ally with years of government experience and previously the head of Congo’s national railway company, as prime minister. But negotiations over other government posts had been stalled since.

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The new list has Gilbert Malaba, a member of Tshisekedi’s party, as minister of interior and security, while the defence ministry went to Ngoy Mukena, a close Kabila ally.

The mining portfolio went to Willy Samsoni, a member of Kabila’s coalition and a former mines minister in the local government of Haut Katanga province, while Congo’s former director general of taxes Sele Yalaghuli, also a Kabila stalwart, was named finance minister.

Tshisekedi ally Jean-Baudouin Mayo Mambeke took the more junior role of budget minister.

Since being inaugurated in January, Tshisekedi has signalled a break with his predecessor in some areas. He pardoned three prominent political prisoners and 700 regular ones in March, a marked shift away from the policies of Kabila, who had scores of his opponents jailed.

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Ngoy Mukena, a long time Kabila ally and senior government figure, had been petroleum minister since late 2015 under Kabila’s previous government. In that role, the government’s own website described him as a “fervent Kabiliste”.

Before that he was Kabila’s defence minister for about nine months. Mukena is from the mineral-rich and sometimes rebellious copper-producing province of Katanga. He was a founding member and at one time secretary of Kabila’s People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD).

Before entering politics he was a professor in political philosophy at University of Lubumbashi, the capital of Katanga.

Another Kabila stalwart, Sele Yalaghuli, is the former head of Congo’s tax authority. Under his leadership tax receipts increased significantly. He was head of the cabinet under Kabila’s prime minister Matata Ponyo, who held the post from 2012-16.

He also served on the board of the African Development Bank and African Development fund in 2010 and 2011.

Willy Samsoni is a member of Kabila’s coalition and a former mines minister in the local government of Haut Katanga province. He has had virtually no previous public presence on the national scene.

Gilbert Malaba is one of President Tshisekedi’s closest allies. Until being named he was the national secretary for Tshisekedi’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UPDS).

Marie Nzeza takes on one of the most senior roles occupied by a female — 17 percent of posts went to female appointees. She is also one of the more than three quarters of posts that went to candidates with no previous political experience.

Nzeza was unknown in Congolese politics before the announcement.

Co-Founder of and former deputy secretary general of Kabila’s PPRD, Celestin Tunda is former parliamentarian who was elected in national legislative elections in 2006. She was also in former PM Ponyo’s government as deputy minister of foreign affairs.

Taking the more junior finance role, Jean-Baudouin Mayo Mambeke is the secretary general of Union for the Congolese Nation, one of the parties in Tshekedi’s coalition.


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