Congo ruling coalition wins legislative majority, constraining president-elect

KINSHASA (Reuters) – Outgoing Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila’s ruling coalition won a majority in legislative elections, a coalition official said on Saturday, despite opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi’s win in the presidential vote the same day.

FILE PHOTO: Martin Fayulu, runner-up in Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential election, arrives at a political rally in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, January 11, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo

The result will undercut Tshisekedi’s ability to deliver on campaign promises to make a break with the Kabila era and fuel suspicions that his victory, announced on Thursday, came through a backroom deal that will preserve Kabila’s influence over important ministries and the security forces.

Kabila is due to step down in the coming days after 18 years in power, marking Congo’s first democratic transfer of power in 59 years of independence. But Kabila has signaled that he intends to remain involved in politics and might run for president in 2023 when term limits no longer apply.

Under the constitution, the parliamentary majority enjoys significant powers and the president must appoint his prime minister from its ranks.

The prime minister, in turn, must countersign presidential orders appointing or dismissing military chiefs, judges and heads of state-owned enterprises.

Adam Chalwe, a national secretary for Kabila’s PPRD party, the biggest within the FCC coalition, told Reuters that results from the individual races announced by the electoral commission (CENI) early Saturday morning showed FCC candidates taking more than 300 out of 500 seats in the National Assembly.

Reuters was not immediately able to confirm that independently.

Parties in the FCC coalition accounted for about 350 seats in the previous legislature.

The coalition’s presidential candidate in the Dec. 30 election, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, finished a distant third with 24 percent of the vote. Pre-election polling had shown the FCC lagging behind opposition parties in legislative races.

On Saturday, the presidential runner-up Martin Fayulu plans to file a formal fraud complaint with Congo’s highest court. Fayulu says he won a landslide victory with more than 60 percent of votes and accuses Tshisekedi of striking a deal with Kabila to be declared the winner.

Tshisekedi’s camp denies there was any deal and says meetings it held with Kabila’s representatives after the election were aimed solely at ensuring a peaceful transfer of power.

But the disputed outcome threatens to reawaken violence in the huge and tumultuous nation where millions have died during civil wars since the 1990s.

Additional reporting and writing by Aaron Ross, Editing by Ros Russell

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