Congo senate leader resigns as Kabila’s influence wanes

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The head of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s senate resigned on Friday, handing President Felix Tshisekedi another victory in his bid to sideline allies of his predecessor Joseph Kabila. The resignation of Alexis Thambwe-Mwamba, a close associate of Kabila, comes a week after the fall of the prime minister and two months after the removal of the lower house speaker.

On Wednesday, the public prosecutor said Thambwe needed to explain the “unjustified” use of more than $52 million of senate funds from January 2019 to December 2020.

Thambwe denies any impropriety.

“I see no grievance that can be held against me,” Thambwe said in a response to a motion of no confidence lodged by a majority of senators on Tuesday.

Thambwe said the motion violated the constitution and the internal regulations of the senate.

“(Because) trust no longer exists between a group of senators and myself…I am resigning,” Thambwe said on Friday.

The senate confirmed his resignation in a tweet.

A longtime opponent of Kabila, who governed from 2001-2019, Tshisekedi was forced into an alliance with him in the aftermath of a widely disputed election two years ago.

Kabila’s supporters used their majority in parliament to frustrate the president’s agenda, which includes addressing armed violence in the mineral-rich east, pushing through electoral reforms and securing financial support from the International Monetary Fund.

Tshisekedi announced the end of the alliance in December. He has since cobbled together a new political platform, called the Sacred Union, that should free his hand to form a more compliant cabinet and legislature.

On Wednesday, parliament elected Tshisekedi’s preferred candidate as speaker of parliament’s lower house, Christophe Mboso.

“Kabila will be licking his wounds and waiting – with over 25 parties in the Sacred Union, Tshiskedi’s new majority is unlikely to be sustainable,” said Alexandre Raymakers, an analyst at the London-based risk firm Verisk Maplecroft. “The key moment will come when the legislature begins debating electoral reform and lays the foundation for the 2023 elections.”

Tshisekedi is meanwhile gearing up for a term as chairperson of AU: