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Congo President Tshisekedi appoints Judith Suminwa as prime minister

Tuesday April 02 2024
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Judith Suminwa is the DR Congo first female Prime Minister. COURTESY

By PATRICK ILUNGA
By REUTERS

Democratic Republic of Congo's President Felix Tshisekedi on Monday appointed Judith Suminwa as Prime Minister, making her the country's first ever female to hold the position.

The new Prime Minister replaces Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde, who resigned at the end of February as a legal requirement after he won a parliamentary seat. 

Read: DR Congo PM Lukonde resigns

Ms Suminwa has been the Minister for Planning since March 2023.

Her appointment ends weeks of uncertainty. Tshisekedi's inauguration for a second term in January kickstarted a lengthy search for a majority coalition in the National Assembly - a key step before a prime minister could be named and a government formed.

Her immediate task is to form a new government in a coalition formed between the President's party and hundreds of political parties.

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The authorities face a raft of challenges including a worsening conflict and humanitarian crisis in eastern regions and the management of Congo's considerable mineral wealth.

Vast areas of DRC territory in North Kivu, in the eastern parts, are being seized by the M23 rebels and in the major cities, including Kinshasa, urban banditry poses a serious challenge. A sharp depreciation of the local currency has also worsened the economic crisis.

"I am aware of the great responsibility ... We will work for peace and the development of the country," Suminwa said on national television.

 "I know that the task and the challenges are immense. But together, with the head of State, the government and the support of the Congolese people, we will succeed".

"My thoughts go out to the East and to all the corners of our country that are now facing conflicts with enemies who are sometimes hidden, who do not reveal themselves, but who will be found one way or another," she added.

In his first term, Tshisekedi promised to root out endemic corruption, rebuild the economy, tackle deep inequalities and curb the eastern insecurity, but critics say he fell short on all counts.

The new Prime Minister was not a well-known politician in the DRC until March 2023, when she was appointed Minister for Planning. She holds a master's degree in applied economics from the Université Libre de Bruxelles. She worked in the banking sector before joining United Nations agencies, including the UNDP.

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