The April 26 investiture of President Félix Tshisekedi’s new parliamentary majority, known as the Sacred Union, marks the end of a long period in which the president remained under the strong influence of his predecessor, Joseph Kabila.
Prime Minister Sama Lukonde presented his new team on April 12 and Parliament endorsed it almost unanimously (with 410 of the 412 deputies present voting in favour), despite tensions over the division of ministerial posts. The new government gives Tshisekedi freedom to push ahead with his reforms.
Controlling the various forces within his new coalition is Tshisekedi’s immediate challenge. The thorny negotiations to form the Sacred Union government show the precariousness of a majority that rallied to displace Kabila but lacks a shared political agenda.
Cracks began to appear in the coalition almost soon as the government was proclaimed on April 12. Almost 200 of the deputies who had defected from Kabila’s FCC set up a “coalition of revolutionary deputies” to protest the imbalance in the new government. Some provinces had several ministries; others had none.
They accused Lukonde of failing to reward their “shift of allegiance” with a government position
Another weakness of this team is the plethora of decision-making entities prone to causing deadlocks within the coalition government. The appointment of powerful opposition figures to deputy PM positions, particularly Eve Bazaiba, secretary general of Jean-Pierre Bemba’s Mouvement pour la libération du Congo, and Christophe Lutundula, a senior official in Moïse Katumbi’s Ensemble pour la République, will severely restrict Tshisekedi’s room for manoeuvre as he will not be the only captain aboard ship.
The other leaders of political parties in the Sacred Union will also use their positions to ensure their interests are catered to and hamper plans to develop a single, non-partisan government.
Also, the general elections in December 2023, when the big names in Lukonde’s government are likely to stand as candidates, could soon cause tensions and generate rivalries.
The “top priority” is to put an end to violence in eastern DRC. Considering its military campaigns’ poor results, the government should accelerate implementation of the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programme to reintegrate former fighters.
Onesphore Sematumba is an ICG analyst for DR Congo and Burundi