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Congo justice minister resigns after judicial reform dispute

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Congo justice minister resigns after judicial reform dispute

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Justice Minister Celestin Tunda on Saturday tendered his resignation in the wake of a dispute with the president over proposed laws that would give politicians more control over criminal prosecutions.


In a televised statement, Tunda gave no reason for his departure, which came a week after President Felix Tshisekedi privately threatened to fire Tunda if he did not quit.

The disagreement over a proposal from Tunda’s political allies to give the justice ministry more control over the judiciary highlighted strains in the coalition between Tshisekedi and his long-serving predecessor Joseph Kabila.

Tshisekedi had said in a speech he would oppose any reforms that undermined the independence of the judiciary.

“I leave the government with the conviction that my actions in the ministry of justice made a contribution to the consolidation of the rule of law,” said Tunda, a senior figure in Kabila’s FCC political alliance.

Peter Kazadi of Tshisekedi’s UDPS party said Tunda had sent a letter to parliament approving the judicial reforms without consulting the government.

“His resignation is normal because the minister acted in violation of the line laid down by the government,” Kazadi told Reuters.

Tension mounted in late June when Tunda was briefly detained by police, prompting Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga to threaten the government would resign over the matter.

According to Vincent Rouguet at London-based security firm Control Risks, Tunda’s resignation removes one element of tension between the two camps, but it is far from the only point of contention.

“It is not going to be enough to restore collaboration,” Rouguet noted.

Tshisekedi has struggled to assert himself since forming a coalition government in January 2019 with Kabila, who maintains extensive powers through his parliamentary majority, control of most cabinet ministries and the army.

Meanwhile, friction between their parties has split into the streets in recent weeks.

On Thursday, no fewer than three people including a policeman were killed during protests in Kinshasa and elsewhere over the nomination of an election commission chief.

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

Abiodun Oluleye: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

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