DRC: President Kabila Names Opposition Leader as Prime Minister

KINSHASA NOVEMBER 18, 2016 (CISA) – Democratic Republic of Congo opposition figure Samy Badibanga was on November 17 named the country’s new Prime Minister.

According to a statement by the presidency, Badibanga was nominated for the position under a power-sharing deal that allows President Joseph Kabila to stay in office after his term ends next month.

The main opposition bloc, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), denounced the nomination as a “provocation” dashing hopes the decision might ease the risk of violence over Kabila’s plan to stay on until at least April 2018, Reuters reported.

Badibanga who is a member of parliament, was excluded from Congo’s largest opposition party UDPS in 2012 along with other MPs for disobeying an order from party president Etienne Tshisekedi to boycott seats in parliament.

His nomination to head the new government of national unity therefore came as a surprise as another opposition leader, Vital Kamerhe, had been widely tipped for the post.

The October deal, struck with part of the opposition emerged following a so-called “national dialogue”, aimed at calming high political tensions.

As part of the deal, a presidential election scheduled for November 27 to replace President Kabila who was constitutionally barred from running again, was postponed until at least April 2018, with authorities citing budgetary constraints and delays registering millions of voters.

Martin Fayulu, one of the leaders of the main opposition bloc that boycotted the talks, said Badibanga’s nomination would not affect protests aimed at forcing Kabila to step down when his mandate expires on December 19. Violent anti-Kabila protests in September claimed 53 lives, according to the UN.

President Kabila took power in 2001, 10 days after the assassination of his father, the then-president, Laurent Kabila. A 2006 constitutional provision in the Central African country limits the presidency to two terms.

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