Tuesday, July 04, 2017 11:35 AM / BMI
The Latest: President Joseph Kabila announced a new cabinet on May 9 for the Democratic Republic of Congo, naming a list of more than 50 ministers and deputy ministers. However, rather than putting in place opposition figures, Kabila kept many long serving ministers in place, including those in charge of foreign affairs, justice and the interior.
The new ministers will serve under Prime Minister Bruno Tshibala, officially a member of the opposition. However, Tshibala has been rejected by much of the opposition as unrepresentative, after he challenged the line of succession of the opposition party.
Implications: The composition of the new cabinet further reinforces our view that Kabila intends to delay holding a presidential election again in 2017, largely ignoring an agreement reached with opposition representatives in December 2016.
The deal allowed President Kabila to stay on in power after the end of his term, provided that he move forward with a power-sharing agreement with the opposition and hold an election by end-2017.
However, his April appointment of Tshibala closely followed by the decision to put the new cabinet in place suggests he is likely to attempt to follow a strategy of co-opting some of the opposition parties to support him, while ignoring the main demands of the 2016 accord.
By appointing Tshibala, Kabila can argue he is abiding by the agreement without truly sharing power.
What's Next: Main opposition groups have already called the move illegitimate and we expect an uptick in unrest in the months ahead as it becomes increasingly clear Kabila is unlikely to follow through with plans for an election in 2017.
Our core view remains that Kabila will eventually be forced to step down in the face of the rising popular discontent and with Western and multilateral governments likely to withhold aid as it becomes clear Kabila will not abide by the 2016 accord.
That said, should he attempt to cling onto power – by trying to force constitution changes which would extend his mandate, for example – we cannot rule out the risk of a return to civil war.
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