New moves against pro-Kabila camp in DR Congo

Prosecutors and senators in DR Congo have launched new moves against the camp of former president Joseph Kabila days after the removal of a prime minister loyal to him, legal and parliamentary sources said Tuesday.

A majority of senators filed a censure motion Tuesday against all the pro-Kabila members of the Senate leadership, a bastion of loyalty to the former president.

Kabila was succeeded two years ago by Felix Tshisekedi but his supporters had retained a grip on the legislature.

On Monday, prosecutors at the country’s top court had written to ask the upper house to allow an inquiry into its speaker, Alexis Thambwe Mwamba, for “embezzlement of public funds,”a letter seen by AFP showed.

Mwamba is accused of having two million euros ($2.4 million) and $1 million delivered to his house on January 6, prosecutor Victor Mumba said in the letter to the Senate’s bureau, which oversees the affairs of the upper house.

The bureau replied that Thambwe Mwamba “agreed to temporarily keep the funds at his home” for safe keeping, because of “turbulence” that day in the National Assembly, which is next door to the Senate.

The money was picked up the following day by the Senate treasurer, and returned to the Senate’s keeping, it said.

As a result, the letter said, “there were no grounds for authorising the requested investigation, as the facts as described do not amount to an offence as claimed.”

But 64 out of 109 senators on Tuesday backed a motion of censure for “bad management” against the bureau, targeting all of its members except for its vice president, Samy Badibanga, who supports Tshisekedi.

Last Friday, pro-Kabila prime minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba resigned following a successful censure motion in the National Assembly, where the majority of MPs appeared to rally behind Tshisekedi’s new Sacred Union of the Nation group.

If the Senate majority also switches sides to back a censure motion, “that would mean the last pawn on Kabila’s side will have been taken off the board, leaving Tshisekedi with total freedom of action,” Congolese political observer Thembo Kash said.

Tshisekedi’s renewed bid to oust Kabila’s camp from DR Congo’s institutions notched up its first win on December 10, when MPs removed the National Assembly’s pro-Kabila speaker.

Since then, almost 400 out of the lower house’s 500 members have rallied behind the incumbent.

Elected at the end of 2018, Tshisekedi was initially forced to rule in coalition with Kabila loyalists, who retained their grip on parliament in a vote widely contested by some opposition groups.

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