Vital Kamerhe unsurprisingly elected president of the National Assembly

Vital Kamerhe unsurprisingly elected president of the National Assembly

Three days after his home was attacked in an alleged coup attempt, Vital Kamerhe, Minister of Economy in the outgoing government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, was elected Wednesday, May 22, president of the National Assembly.

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A selection process had made him the sole candidate and his election to the post, during a public session of the Assembly, was a formality. The only votes that escaped him were 36 invalid or blank ballots, out of a total of 407 voters. Vital Kamerhe, 65, a figure in Congolese politics, returns to a position he held from 2006 to 2009, under the presidency of Joseph Kabila.

Then moving into opposition, he founded his party, the Union for the Congolese Nation (UNC), before becoming an ally of Félix Tshisekedi, in power since January 2019 and largely re-elected on December 20. In 2020, then chief of staff to the head of state, he was accused of embezzlement and sentenced to twenty years in prison. He will be released a year later and acquitted on appeal in 2022.

In March 2023, he returned to the forefront as Minister of the Economy, with the rank of Deputy Prime Minister. Elected deputy of the majority in the December elections, he was chosen on April 23 as candidate of the “Sacred Union”, pro-Tshisekedi political platform, to the presidency of the Assembly. But, due to a lack of initial consensus, this required a primary, which he won against two other contenders.

The composition of the rest of the “final office” of the Assembly was then also the subject of fierce discussions, postponing its election to Wednesday, although it had been scheduled for last Saturday.

Meanwhile, in Kinshasa there was what the army described as “coup attempt”. In the early morning of May 19, armed men attacked the home of Vital Kamerhe, in the upscale Gombe district, before taking over the Palais de la Nation not far away, which houses the offices of Félix Tshisekedi. Vital Kamerhe’s supporters are convinced that it was an assassination attempt on their champion, who emerged unscathed from the attack, during which two police officers responsible for his protection were killed.

The election of the office of the Assembly should clear the way for the establishment of the government.