Congo Republic PM, cabinet resign amid economic woes

BRAZZAVILLE (Reuters) - Congo Republic’s Prime Minister Clement Mouamba and his cabinet have resigned amid a growing economic crisis, the president’s office said in a statement on Thursday.

The announcement comes days after President Denis Sassou Nguesso said he wanted to form a new government to help alleviate the country’s economic problems which have been exacerbated by a steep drop in oil prices since 2014.

Export revenues have dropped and public debt has shot higher, raising questions about the country’s ability to meet coupon payments for its $363 million Eurobond.

“Prime Minister Clement Mouamba presented on Wednesday...the resignation of the government to the President of the Republic who accepted it,” the statement said.

It was not clear when the parting cabinet would be replaced.

Congo authorities did not fully disclose the country’s debt to an IMF mission in March and it ended up being higher than reported, a fund spokesman told Reuters this month.

Congo is in dispute with rating agencies over what they say is a default on the latest coupon payment of its $363 million Eurobond. Congo denies it is in default.

“The situation in the country is troubling. I will need to lean on a government that is effective and ... fully mobilised to implement bold reforms and appropriate policies in order to revive the national economy,” Nguesso said in a speech on Monday.

Congo is looking to increase oil production thanks to new discoveries that will begin producing in the next couple of years. Experts, however, say that Nguesso will have to uproot deep corruption in the country if the higher revenues are to have a positive impact.

“Believe me, we are not in an irreparable disaster. There is no bankruptcy. The crisis will be overcome,” Nguesso said.

Reporting By Christian Elion, writing by Edward McAllister, editing by Larry King and Toby Davis