July 26, 2019 / 2:18 PM / a month ago

Congo president and predecessor agree on division of cabinet posts

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Allies of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi and his predecessor Joseph Kabila said they had reached an agreement on Friday on the division of cabinet posts between the two political camps.

FILE PHOTO: Democratic Republic of Congo's Felix Tshisekedi swears into office during an inauguration ceremony as the new president of the Democratic Republic of Congo at the Palais de la Nation in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo January 24, 2019. REUTERS/ Olivia Acland

Negotiations have dragged on since Tshisekedi’s inauguration in January. They have been seen as a test of the power balance between the president and Kabila, who governed Democratic Republic of Congo for 18 years and maintains significant influence over state institutions.

Three sources familiar with the negotiations, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Kabila’s FCC coalition would control three of the four ministries generally considered the most prestigious: defense, finance and justice.

It will also control the ministry of the public portfolio, which oversees state companies like copper and cobalt miner Gecamines, a joint venture partner of Glencore and China Molybdenum, they said.

Tshisekedi’s CACH coalition will control the fourth main ministry, foreign affairs, as well as the ministries of the interior, budget and economy, the sources said.

The FCC’s demands that it control of most of the highest-profile ministries by virtue of its sizable majorities in parliament had held up the talks.

“An agreement has just been found this Friday between the FCC and CACH,” the FCC said in a tweet. “The FCC pays tribute to ... Joseph Kabila and his partner President Felix Tshisekedi for their positive drive and complete involvement.”

Francois Muamba, who is close to Tshisekedi, also said on Twitter that a deal had been reached.

The three sources said the names of the ministers would be discussed over the weekend.

Jean-Baudouin Mayo, one of Tshisekedi’s negotiators, said this week that the new government would have 65 members - 42 from Kabila’s camp and 23 from Tshisekedi’s - larger than any of Kabila’s governments.

Kabila was barred by constitutional term limits from standing in the Dec. 30 election, leading to Congo’s first transfer of power at the ballot box after decades marked by coups and civil conflict.

Tshisekedi won a surprise victory ahead of Kabila’s preferred successor, former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, and opposition leader Martin Fayulu.

Multiple sources told Reuters the results were rigged to prevent Fayulu, who was seen as more hostile to Kabila’s interests than Tshisekedi, from winning.

Kabila and Tshisekedi’s camps deny the vote was rigged or that they struck any deal before the results were announced.

Tshisekedi named Sylvestre Ilunga, a Kabila ally, as prime minister in May. The two sides also formed a coalition in parliament, but they have quarreled over appointments and Tshisekedi’s criticisms of Kabila’s government as dictatorial and corrupt.

Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by William Maclean and Frances Kerry

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