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Kabila outwits opposition?

April 8, 2017

Ousted Congolese opposition figure Bruno Tshibala has been picked as prime minister by President Joseph Kabila. His move is likely to add to election delay and exacerbate rancor among Kabila's opponents.

Kongo Präsident Joseph Kabila
Image: picture alliance/AP Images/J. Bompengo

The Democratic Republic of Congo's roadmap toward fresh presidential elections was given a new twist Friday by Kabila's naming of Tshibala, who last month was expelled from opposition ranks.

Tshibala replaces Samy Badibanga, who resigned early Friday - two days after Kabila (pictured above) had told Congo's opposition Rassemblement coalition to overcome its "squabbles" and hand him a list of candidates for the post.

The nomination raises tensions ahead of a rally planned for Kinshasa on Monday by Tshibila's former party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), whose veteran leader Etienne Tshisekedi died in February.

On Friday, Tshisekedi's son, Felix, now the main opposition bloc's leader, accused Kabila of violating the Catholic church-brokered roadmap deal reached in December after Kabila had refused to end his final term.

Kongo Bischöfe geben Vermittlerrolle auf
Catholic bishops acted as intermediaries in DecemberImage: Getty Images/AFP/J. D. Kannah

"The nomination of Bruno Tshibala is a departure from the accord," he said, referring to elections delayed until late 2017.

Tshibala in particular had contested Tshisekedi's son Felix from taking over as leader, prompting his expulsion from the UDPS.

As prime minister, Tshibala faces major challenges in the central African nation of 71 million, including a slump in the value of the Congo's franc currency and militia violence that has worsened following Kabila's decision to stay on.

Kabila, who has ruled Congo since his father's assassination in 2001, claims that election delays are due to voter registration flaws and budgetary constraints.

ipj/kl (Reuters, AP, AFP)