In the DRC, Vital Kamerhe elected president of the National Assembly, three days after the alleged coup d’état

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Vital Kamerhe, in Kinshasa, December 28, 2018. BAZ RATNER / REUTERS

Three days after the attack on his home during an alleged coup attempt, Vital Kamerhe, minister of the economy in the outgoing government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, was elected, Wednesday, May 23, president of the National Assembly, noted a team from Agence France-Presse.

A selection process had made him the sole candidate, and his election to the post, during a public session of the Assembly, was a formality. The only votes that escaped him were 36 invalid or blank ballots, out of a total of 407 voters.

Read also | DRC: confusion after authorities claim to have foiled a “coup attempt” in Kinshasa

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Vital Kamerhe, 65, a figure in Congolese politics, returns to a position he held from 2006 to 2009, under the presidency of Joseph Kabila. Then moving into opposition, he founded his party, the Union for the Congolese Nation (UNC), before becoming an ally of Félix Tshisekedi, in power since January 2019 and largely re-elected on December 20.

In 2020, then chief of staff to the head of state, he was accused of embezzlement and sentenced to twenty years in prison. He will be released a year later and acquitted on appeal in 2022. In March 2023, he returned to the forefront as Minister of the Economy, with the rank of Deputy Prime Minister.

Elected deputy of the majority in the December elections, he was chosen on April 23 as candidate of the Sacred Union for the Nation, a pro-Tshisekedi political platform, for the presidency of the Assembly. But, due to a lack of initial consensus, it was necessary to organize a primary, which he won against two other contenders.

The composition of the rest of the “permanent office” of the Assembly was then also the subject of bitter discussions, postponing its election to Wednesday, although it had been scheduled for Saturday. Meanwhile, in Kinshasa there was what the army described as “coup attempt”.

The establishment of government

In the early morning of May 19, armed men attacked the home of Vital Kamerhe, in the upscale Gombe district, before taking over, not far from there, the Palais de la Nation, which houses the offices of Félix Tshisekedi.

Vital Kamerhe’s supporters are convinced that it was a “assassination attempt” of their champion, who emerged unscathed from the attack, during which two police officers responsible for his protection were killed.

The election of the office of the Assembly should clear the way for the establishment of the government. More than five months after the re-election of Félix Tshisekedi, the new team is slow to be put in place while the east of the country is faced with a serious security crisis, the M23 rebellion, supported by Rwanda, occupying large parts of the North Kivu province.

Read also: DRC: how to bring peace to the east of the country?

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The World with AFP

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