One month after the death of its leader Etienne Tshisekedi, and after more than 10 days of tough negotiations, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s main opposition coalition, Le Rassemblement, has finally designated its new leadership.
In December last year, the Congolese National Episcopal Conference (Cenco) brokered an agreement that would clear the path for President Joseph Kabila stepping down from power in 2017 and refrain from seeking a third term in office,
Historic opposition leader Tshisekedi was set to oversee transition of power to a new unity government under the power-sharing deal, thus paving the way for a peaceful handover.
However, Tshisekedi – aged 84 – died on 1 February and rows sparked over whether to hold a national funeral for the symbol of resistance, or who would become his successor.
The Rassemblement, or “Rally”, opted for two presidents – a political presidency and a strategic presidency. Felix Tshisekedi, the son of the historic opponent, will be heading the political presidency. Pierre Lumbi, former minister and another heavyweight of the Rassemblement was given the strategic presidency.
The double presidency is seen as a way to solve the problems of competition between ambitious members of the Rassemblement, notably between the G7 coalition and Tshisekedi’s UDPS party.
A new body known as the the Coordination Committee was also announced. It is understood that its leadership could be handed to Martin Fayulu, who represents the Dynamique de l’opposition coalition. An additional three vice-presidents and four assistant coordinators are yet to be appointed.
Overall, the new structure is a radical modification from that initially set out when the Rassemblement was first established in in the early hours of 10 June 2016 following a historic opposition meeting in Lake Genval, on the outskirts of Brussels.
The Rassemblement’s next step will be to give Cenco the name of the president of a transitional body – known as the Implementation Council, which was due to be led by Tshisekedi. The President of the Implementation Council will suggest a prime minister to Kabila.
By Elsa Buchanan