21 May 2019

Congo-Kinshasa: New Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Is a Politican and Professor

Photo: RFI
New DRC Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba

After a four-month wait, Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba has been named as the prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo. An economics professor at the University of Kinshasa since 1979, he began his foray into politics in 1970.

Ilunga was a key player in President Mobutu Sese Seko's cabinet, including a stint as finance minister from 1990 to 1991, but had had not been front-and-center in Congolese politics recently until now.

Ilunga was named on Congolese state television on Monday. The professor, originally from mine-rich Katanga, had been the head of the beleaguered national rail company since 2014, which for some critics calls into question his ability to do the top ministerial job.

Part of the delay in naming a prime minister came from former president Joseph Kabila's political party People for Reconstruction and Democracy Party (PPRD), who won a majority in parliament, earning the right to name the prime minister.

The drawn-out negotiations were the result of a number of rejections by President Felix Tshisekedi from Kabila's PPRD, including former ministers under Kabila, until Ilunga was agreed upon.

The Prime Minister wields power under the Congolese constitution, but Ilunga, according to analysts, will need to balance both Tshisekedi and PPRD in order to be an effective prime minister.

Ilunga will now form a new cabinet, perhaps with some PPRD ministers, as Congolese are watching Kinshasa.

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