President Felix Tshisekedi could be courting a political crisis as he seeks to consolidate his grip on power and shake off the influence of his predecessor Joseph Kabila.
The newly elected Democratic Republic of Congo president last week rejected Albert Yuma Mulimbi as Kabila’s nominee for prime minister.
Mr Mulimbi, 64, is a prominent businessman and chairperson of the Federation of Congo Employers.
Kabila’s party, the Common Front for the Congo (FCC) through its secretariat, then wrote a letter reminding President Tshisekedi that he was responsible for the delays in having constitutional institutions of governance in place, hinting at a constitutional crisis. Tshisekedi was sworn in in January.
But Stephanie Wolters, head of the peace and security research programme at the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa, says that the FCC is part and parcel of the ongoing negotiations to form a government and they cannot turn around and accuse President Tshisekedi of dragging his feet.
This came on the back of a recent visit to the US by President Tshisekedi, where he condemned the excesses of his predecessor and vowed to dismantle the dictatorial system in the country.
On his return to Kinshasa, President Tshisekedi sought to clarify his remarks to assuage some of the anger they caused by explaining that his remarks did not refer to an individual and that he had no problem working with anyone.
He further said those condemning him for his remarks did not want to hear the truth.
“They did not want to hear me say things like that because they thought I was going to be a complacent president. I am going to tackle everything that has degraded Congolese citizens: Corruption, human rights violations and bullying,” he said.
Some Congo experts say that President Tshisekedi has been seeking the help of the US President Donald Trump’s administration to reduce Mr Kabila’s hold on the security apparatus and the economy.
President Tshisekedi met US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and discussed US-DRC relations.
Mr Pompeo expressed support for the reform agenda focused on fighting corruption, strengthening governance, advancing human rights and accountability for human rights abuses and violations.
For President Tshisekedi to make a difference, he has to initiate wide-ranging reforms of the armed forces, police, judiciary and the Independent National Electoral Commission.