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DR Congo unveils new government after months-long delay

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KINSHASA: Nearly eight months after former opposition chief Felix Tshisekedi was elected president, the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday unveiled a coalition government dominated by supporters of his predecessor, Joseph Kabila.


“The government is finally here. The president has signed the decree and we will begin work soon,” Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga told reporters.


In gestation for seven months, the new government will see most of the 66 portfolios handed to Kabila’s Common Front for Congo (FCC), with Tshisekedi’s Direction For Change alliance accounting for most of the rest.


Tshisekedi, 56, has vowed to enact sweeping reform and root out corruption but has been hampered by the need to share power with the legislature, which is dominated by FCC MPs. Forging the coalition government took time as both sides had to “remove everything that could be an obstacle to the functioning of the government,” Ilunga said.


The new team will get down to work as soon as its members are approved by the National Assembly, he added. The parliament has been convened in special session until September 7 to approve the government.


“I believe this has been worth waiting for,” Ilunga said. “Here we have a government that manifests the vision of the head of state, in the direction of change. So change starts now. Let’s get to work!”


FEMALE FOREIGN MINISTER


Ilunga said 17 per cent of government positions were now occupied by women.


“This percentage is still low but it is balanced by the importance of the portfolios attributed to women,” he argued. The foreign ministry was handed to Marie Tumba Nzeza, a member of Tshisekedi’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress.


She becomes only the second female foreign minister in the country’s history. The first was Ekila Liyonda, who briefly served in the 1980s under former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, who had renamed the country Zaire.


Women have also been named in charge of the employment ministry and ministry for gender affairs.


The new government also includes a female vice prime minister from Kabila’s party, Elysee Munembe, who takes the planning portfolio, Ilunga said. There are five vice prime ministers in all.


The defence ministry went to Aime Ngoy Mukena, a close Kabila supporter and the finance portfolio to another Kabila-era veteran, Jose Sele Yalaghuli. The interior ministry was attributed to Gilbert Kankonde, a pro-Tshisekedi figure, who will face the thorny task of dealing with future protests. — AFP


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