President Felix Tshisekedi is propping up a plan that aims at dissolving parliament as a means of chopping the massive influence of Joseph Kabila the man he succeeded and with whom they run the government in a coalition.
It all began on Monday, December 7 when the Secretary General of DRC’s National Assembly Jean Nguvulu Khoji issued a statement summoning for a plenary session for Tuesday December 8.
This plenary session was intended to move a motion that would pave way for investigations into gross corruption allegations against legislators in the lower house of parliament led by Speaker Jeanine Mabunda.
“In accordance with Article 31 paragraph 6 of the Rules of Procedure of the National Assembly, the Secretary General of the National Assembly invites the Honorable National Deputies to take part in the plenary session of this Tuesday, December 8, 2020 at 11 a.m. sharp. On the agenda is the installation of the Bureau of ages to examine petitions initiated against members of the Bureau of the National Assembly chamber of deputies, “said Jean Nguvulu Khoji.
Meanwhile, last week on Monday, the speaker of parliament Jeanine Mabunda had issued a statement suspending all plenary sessions and committee work until further notice.
However, several activists from the Union pour la Démocratie et le Progrès Social (UDPS) and those from the Alliance of Democratic Forces of Congo (AFDC) led by Modeste Bahati, stormed the surroundings of the People’s Palace, to prevent the holding of a plenary convened by the office of the national assembly.
President Thsisekedi Bitter
On Sunday December 6, President Felix Tshisekedi announced the appointment of a Dean to secure a new parliamentary majority.
He also suggested for the dissolution of the National Assembly, in case the Dean fails to reclassify the parliamentary majority. For him, the coalition government, led by Professor Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba, “has not been able to implement the program for which you elected me.”
Tshisekedi’s announcement was met with sharp criticism from spokesperson for Dynamique pour une exit de crisis (DYSOC), Lisanga Bonganga. He says this intimidation does not honor the presidential office.
“The announcement of the imminent appointment of a Dean, while there is a Prime Minister in office, not resigning, and not dismissed by the National Assembly, is a violation of the Constitution,” Bonganga said.
“President Félix Tshisekedi is pushing the country towards a leap into the unknown. It thus leaves the population in a situation of uncertainty and despair at the end of the year, ” Bonganga added.
What is Next?
The dean nominated by the petitioners called for calm after a hectic day. He proposed that the petitions against the Bureau of the Assembly be considered on Thursday. This Wednesday evening, the seat of Parliament will be empty and Calm has returned.
For the second day in a row, the situation was very tense on Tuesday in the National Assembly. Pick-ups, roadblocks … Hundreds of police officers were deployed this morning.
The tension was exacerbated when Jean-Marc Kabund, the interim president of the presidential party, the UDPS who joined in the group of deputies demanding the resignation of Jeanine Mabunda speaker of National Assembly considered a pro-Kabila.
Broken chairs, destroyed furniture … A real row brawl broke out in the National Assembly between the president’s activists and those of his predecessor. Those in the Kabila camp wanted to prevent the holding of the plenary session supposed to examine the petitions filed last weekend. It was officially the Secretary General of the National Assembly, Jean Nguvulu, who summoned it. But there is some confusion around what has happened in recent days.
Despite these clashes, the quorum was reached for the pro-Tshisekedi. Those close to the President even add that the 279 deputies out of 500 who were present yesterday, according to the figures communicated during the plenary, are ready to join them.
For Joseph Kabila’s Common Front for Congo, this plenary was called and proceeded irregularly. The deputy Lambert Mende, an FCC executive, believes that the figure of 279 elected representatives present at the plenary session is not exact, given that, according to him, a hundred FCC deputies were participating, at the same time, in another meeting.
More than 200 deputies from Joseph Kabila’s camp have decided to boycott the day’s session, while denouncing the forced passage and accusing the signatories of the petitions of being corrupt.
On Saturday, Kabila’s FCC said that Jean Nguvulu had been kidnapped by the presidential camp. Even today, members of his family complained on local radio that they had not seen him since. Witnesses confirm having seen him at the Assembly compound and petitioning deputies assure them that it is the pro-Kabila who kidnapped him.
It remains to be seen what will be the reaction of Joseph Kabila’s camp, which denounces the illegality of this whole procedure. But the office of the National Assembly is already denouncing what it qualifies as a “parliamentary coup”. In the entourage of Jeanine Mabunda, it is always said that pro-Kabila elected officials, officially around 350, will close ranks on Thursday to save the current office.
Meanwhile, the Joint United Nations Human Rights Office in Kinshasa “strongly condemns the violence in and around the People’s Palace, which is incompatible with the demands of a democratic society”.