Congo senate elects Tshisekedi ally as new leader

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo’s Senate on Tuesday backed an ally of President Felix Tshisekedi to lead the body, a move that should ease the passage of Tshisekedi’s legislative agenda after two years of gridlock.

In the last three months, the president has succeeded in replacing several powerful loyalists of his predecessor Joseph Kabila, with whom he formed a coalition government in the aftermath of a widely disputed election two years ago.

The senate elected Modeste Bahati Lukwebo, a former minister in Kabila’s administration, with 89 votes out of 98.

In January Bahati helped Tshisekedi identify a new coalition in the national assembly, known as the Sacred Union, which then voted overwhelmingly to oust the prime minister.

Bahati’s election caps three months of political upheaval that will give Tshisekedi a freer hand to push through electoral and judicial reforms, and secure financial support from donors including the International Monetary Fund.

Reporting by Stanis Bujakera; Writing by Hereward Holland, Editing by William Maclean