Lawmakers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have voted to remove Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba from office, handing President Felix Tshisekedi a key victory in his bid to sideline the allies of his predecessor.
The DR Congo’s National Assembly approved a no-confidence motion against Ilunga Ilunkamba by 367 votes to seven on Wednesday, forcing the premier to step down within 24 hours.
The vote came against a backdrop of a months-long power struggle that pitched Tshisekedi against loyalists to former president Joseph Kabila, who ruled the DR Congo for 18 years.
Kabila’s allies, including Ilunga Ilunkamba, boycotted the Wednesday vote, saying the interim speaker of the parliament lacked the constitutional authority to oversee the motion of no-confidence.
In a letter posted on his office’s website, Ilunga Ilunkamba lashed out at the National Assembly’s provisional bureau, which monitors parliamentary procedures, and denounced the “notorious motion” as “no more than a political maneuver with no basis in fact, flouting the requirements of the state of law.”
Last month, Tshisekedi moved to end a coalition formed with Kabila that had constrained his authority since he took office in January 2019.
Tshisekedi’s new political alliance, known as the Sacred Union, is yet to be officially formed, but is likely to include more than 20 parties, giving him an overwhelming majority at the parliament.
The 57-year-old emerged victorious from a controversial presidential election in December 2018 after he vowed to fight corruption, reduce inequality, and improve governance.
Tshisekedi has on numerous occasions claimed that his campaign of reform has been thwarted by Kabila’s loyalists, who account for two-thirds of the 65-member coalition government.
Kabila, who enjoys strong support from his allies in government, the military, and in business, took the helm of the DR Congo in 2001 after succeeding his father, Laurent-Desire Kabila, who was assassinated by a bodyguard.
The younger Kabila’s rule was marred by accusations of corruption and poor governance, but ended peacefully when he resigned after the 2018 election, in the DR Congo’s first-ever bloodless transition since gaining independence from Belgium in 1960.