The newly appointed cabinet of the Democratic Republic of Congo, led by Prime Minister Bruno Tshibala has been sworn into office in spite of jeers, whistling and the blowing of vuvuzelas by opposition members.
Prime Minister Bruno Tshibala’s government of national unity has been described by the opposition as undermining a previous agreement.
President Joseph Kabila struck a deal with the country’s main opposition bloc to allow him stay on in office after his mandate expired last November provided elections were held by the end of 2017.
Talks to implement the deal however broke down in March this year when Kabila refused to commit o the bloc’s choice of prime minister.
In spite of the rejection his government faces from the opposition, Prime Minister Tshibala says he is committed to work for the country’s best interest.
In his address, the outlined the four priority areas of his new government of national unity which he said “are deeply entrenched in the political accord of December 31, 2016 and its terms.”
The first line of action of the new government Tshibala said is “to organise credible, free, transparent and peaceful elections, at an agreed date”.
He cited arresting the country’s declining economy and the improving the living conditions of the population as the second and third priority action points respectively of his government.
The final priority of the new government “will be to improve security throughout the country.”
Political tensions remain high in the Democratic Republic of Congo as President Kabila’s opponents believe he intends to delay elections until he can organise a referendum to allow himself run for a third term.
The president has however denied the accusations, saying the delays in organising elections are due to challenges with registering millions of voters as well as budgetary constraints.
Head of the DRC’s Electoral Commission (CENI) Corneille Nangaa however says the ongoing violence in central Congo could further delay the planned elections as well as affect the credibility of the polls.
“Elections must take place, but not just anyhow,” Nangaa said. “If we organise the election hastily without preparing what is necessary because we must stick to the date, we risk having non-credible elections and that will probably lead to violence that we saw recently.”
Nangaa said militiamen have ransacked six of the electoral commission’s headquarters in the troubled Kasai region – where an insurrection which began last July has led to hundreds of deaths – and beheaded three staff members.
Nangaa told Reuters that while the elections could technically be held later this year as scheduled, there might be no voting in the troubled areas.
“I don’t think we have much of a choice. The most important thing is to pacify that area and enroll as we’ve done elsewhere,” he added.
Nangaa also cast doubts on the feasibility of holding presidential, legislative and provincial elections together this year as called for by the accord. But some analysts say, a further delay could rekindle anti-Kabila protests which resulted in dozens being killed last year.