Congo’s Kabila names opposition figure Tshibala prime minister

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Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila named a former member of the largest opposition party as prime minister on Friday (April 7), a move likely to further divide Kabila’s opponents after talks to negotiate his exit from power broke down last week.

A statement from the presidency named Bruno Tshibala the prime minister of a new transitional government meant to organise a presidential election by the end of this year following Kabila’s refusal to step down when his mandate expired in December.

Under a deal struck with the opposition in December, Kabila can stay in office until after an election required to be held by the end of this year. But negotiations to implement the pact collapsed last week and Tshibala’s nomination is almost certain to weaken fledgling efforts to make Kabila abide by it.

Tshibala was expelled from the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), Congo’s largest opposition party, last month after he contested the designation of successors to veteran leader Etienne Tshisekedi, who died in February.

Tshibala will be confronted immediately with stern security and economic tests. Congo’s franc currency has lost nearly half its value since last year and militia violence has worsened across the country in the wake of Kabila’s decision to stay on.