DR Congo cabinet resigns to compromise at political accord

Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Joseph Kabila will address a special joint session of Parliament Tuesday, a day after the prime minister resigned to make way for an opposition figure.

On Monday, the Prime Minister Augustin Matata ponyo and cabinet resigned as part of a deal that extends the tenure of President Kabila, who also defended the right of the Congolese people to change the constitution currently barring him from running third term.

Kabila is supposed to step down when his mandate runs out on December 19, but his ruling coalition and part of the opposition agreed last month to delay a presidential vote until April 2018, citing logistical problems in registering millions of voters.

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“I have just handed in my resignation and that of my government to the president of the republic in line with the spirit of the political accord signed on October 18,” Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo said in a statement.

The government’s departure should pave the way for a new cabinet with posts for some of those opposition figures who agreed to the election delay and to Kabila staying on as leader of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

At a press conference on Monday, Communications Minister Lambert Mende quoted Kabila as pledging to respect the constitution, which ruled out running for a third term, after a visit by a UN Security Council delegation over the weekend meant to press for a peaceful transition.

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Kabila’s critics say his aim is to change the constitution, which limits him to two terms in office, in order to secure a third. The country’s constitutional court has given the go-ahead for the rescheduling of the election.

Joseph Kabila became president of the republic following the assassination of his father Laurent Desire Kabila in 2001, and he won disputed elections in 2006 and 2011.

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