DRC’s long wait for Felix Tshisekedi to form government

Saturday April 27 2024

President Felix Tshisekedi (centre) greet supporters as he arrives for his inauguration ceremony at the Stade des Martyrs in Kinshasa on January 20, 2024. PHOTO | AFP


Nearly five months after the general election in the Democratic Republic of Congo, there is still no new government in Kinshasa.

New Prime Minister Judith Suminwa says she is still consulting with the country’s political parties and other figures.

It is not that there is a constitutional crisis in the DRC, but appointing a council of ministers often helps calm political anxiety, roping in influential leaders out of the cold or delivering a punishing blow to those who fell by the wayside.

Read: Why EAC won't send observers to DR Congo's elections

President Felix Tshisekedi was sworn in on January 20, 2024, beginning his second — and last — term in office as per the law. Pending a new government, the Congolese head of state is working with the outgoing ministers, many of whom were elected members of parliament. In law, elected leaders cannot serve in Cabinet until they resign from their elected posts. The interim status of their presence in the council of ministers, however, doesn’t require them to quit the elected seats yet.

Former Prime Minister Sama Lukonde and his outgoing government continue to “manage current affairs”, although they technically resigned in February. They are working with reduced prerogatives as a result of this.


Sources say that the new government should be unveiled soon. Despite these assurances, some citizens have warned that the delay is unhealthy, citing the example of Senegal, where elections were held at the end of March, and a government was put in place at the beginning of April.

“In the current political context, the formation of government can sometimes seem like a laborious and protracted process. This reality is particularly striking when we compare the situation between Senegal and the DR Congo,” said Godé Mpoy, an MP from the presidential majority.

DR Congo is used to lengthy negotiations to form governments after presidential and legislative elections. In 2019, it was only in September of that year that the country was able to form a government, after difficult negotiations between Félix Tshisekedi’s coalition and his predecessor Joseph Kabila’s.

Prime Minister Suminwa is not faced with two coalitions from which to form a government but must arbitrate the ambitions of more than 300 political parties grouped into different platforms within Tshisekedi’s coalition.

It will be a tough task, especially as Ms Suminwa seeks to reduce the Cabinet to 45 ministers, compared with the outgoing one of 58. Of this team, only 20 ministers were not elected MPs.

Those who were elected were authorised to remain in government while keeping their seats in the National Assembly.

Some analysts see this combination of functions as a breach of the Constitution.

Read: Observers take note of logistical challenges in DRC elections

“I don’t feel that I have violated the constitution; I am guided by a single ideal: For me, the salvation of the people is the supreme law and, as Head of State, I believe that I am in the best position to observe and understand where the salvation of the people lies,” President Tshisekedi said in February. “At the moment, the country is facing not just the insecurity but also the financial situation.”