DR Congo Senate leader quits as Kabila's influence wanes

·2-min read

The head of the Democratic Republic of Congo's senate resigned on Friday, handing President Felix Tshisekedi another victory in his bid to sideline allies of his predecessor Joseph Kabila.

The resignation of Alexis Thambwe-Mwamba, a close associate of Kabila, came a week after the fall of the Democratic Republic of Congo's prime minister and two months after the removal of the lower house speaker.

In a letter to the Senate's supervisory bureau, Thambwe Mwamba said "trust no longer exists between a group of senators and myself," referring to plans by a majority of legislators to file a censure motion against him.

The senate confirmed his resignation in a tweet.

A proposal to debate a censure motion had been signed by 64 senators out of 109.

The proposal had been enabled by a change in the Senate bureau -- a shift that Thambwe Mwamba, a 77-year-old veteran former minister and prominent Kabila backer, also said was a factor in his decision to quit.

Pro-Kabila departures

His resignation is the latest in a string of top-level political departures following a tussle for power between supporters of Kabila and Tshisekedi, who succeeded the long-ruling leader in January 2019.

On Wednesday, a Tshisekedi supporter, 79-year-old Christophe Mboso, was elected speaker of the National Assembly, three weeks after its pro-Kabila head, Jeanine Mabunda, was forced out.

Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba was pushed out last week following a censure motion in parliament, where a majority of deputies have switched allegiance from Kabila to Tshisekedi.

"Kabila will be licking his wounds and waiting - with over 25 parties in the Sacred Union, Tshiskedi's new majority is unlikely to be sustainable," said Alexandre Raymakers, an analyst at the London-based risk firm Verisk Maplecroft.

"The key moment will come when the legislature begins debating electoral reform and lays the foundation for the 2023 elections."

Uneasy coalition

Kabila stepped down after 18 years in office, opening the way to elections in December 2018 that were controversially won by Tshisekedi, the son of a veteran opposition leader.

But the new president was forced into a coalition with Kabila supporters in parliament -- an arrangement that, he complained, stymied his plans of reform.

Tensions boiled over last October when Tshisekedi appointed three judges to the Constitutional Court, the Democratic Republic of Congo's highest judicial authority.

On Thursday, pro-Kabila senators lashed moves to force out Thambwe Mwamba as "the final blow to the republic's institutions" and "bare-faced installation of a monolithic dictatorship."

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)