DRC opposition faults President Tshisekedi's constitution review crusade

Thursday May 16 2024

Democratic Republic of the Congo President Felix Tshisekedi attends an opening session of the 35th ordinary session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on February 5, 2022. PHOTO | REUTERS


The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Félix Tshisekedi has kick-started a constitutional review process, saying he wants a “dignified” constitution.

The recently re-elected head of State announced his intention to “set up a commission to reflect on a new constitution”, arguing that the Congolese law put in place in 2006 was a “post-conflict” law.

President Tshisekedi complained, among other things, about the slowness in setting up political institutions such as the Bureau of the National Assembly and the government. The institutions are still not in place more than five months after the 2023 elections which gave him a second and final term of office, ending in 2028.

Read: DRC’s long wait for Tshisekedi to form government

Although he announced this while on a European tour at the beginning of May, it has become a serious concern among the opposition and civil society.

When asked by Congolese in Belgium about a possible revision of the Constitution, he replied that “we need a constitution worthy of our country”.


Some opponents already fear that he could set his term count back to zero, seeking a fresh mandate under the new supreme law if amended.

Christian Mwando, who heads the opposition parliamentary group in the National Assembly, said the announcement is “an attempt at a third term”. 

“We cannot accept it...It’s a total lack of leadership. President Tshisekedi must take his responsibilities for the Republic and not always put the blame on others or the texts. The texts are clear and are good. With a Stalinist majority, he should have put the country in order but he did not. He has no right to blame anyone, not even the Constitution,” said Mwando.

 “Tshisekedi should read the Constitution carefully and understand that the installation of the prime minister and government can in no way be blocked by the Law, especially in the current context of a single political bloc with a majority at all legislative levels and a corrupt electoral commission, contrary to what he claims”, said Devos Kitoko, Secretary General of the Ecidé (Commitment to Citizenship and Development) party of the opposition leader Martin Fayulu.

In a statement, Fayulu’s party said, “Tshisekedi’s manoeuvres are aimed at illegitimately maintaining himself in power, which he obtained by an electoral hold-up in 2018 and by a sham of elections in 2023. He is also concealing his inability to preserve the territorial integrity of the DRC in the face of the M23 rebels”.

Much of French-speaking Africa has seen the debate about changing their constitutions and extending the terms of office of heads of State. Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, the Central African Republic and Guinea have not escaped this debate. 

Read: Chad violence a new political scare for Africa

DRC government spokesperson Patrick Muyaya, in an attempt to calm the debate, said, “We must avoid any politicisation of the President’s thinking. We must not mystify this debate. People want to fixate on a question to which the President has already given a sufficient answer by saying that he does not want to be seen as a dictator”.

According to the spokesman, “after 20 years of this Constitution, we are entitled to think that we need to reflect on what comes next, in particular, the functioning of the provinces or the question of the debate on Congolese nationality”.