Arrest of justice minister in DRC highlights growing tensions in Tshisekedi’s coalition

Felix Tshisekedi, DRC president.

TENSIONS increased in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following the arrest of the country’s justice minister – a development that led prime minister, Sylvestre Ilunga, to threaten the resignation of government, reports said.

“This serious and unprecedented incident is of a nature that will weaken the stability and the harmonious functioning of institutions, and provoke the government’s resignation,” Ilunga said in a statement cited by Bloomberg News.

“Did I kill someone? What justifies sending armed police officers to arrest me?,” Reuters cited justice minister, Celestin Tunda, as having said on Sunday. Tunda was released after questioning by police.

Tunda’s arrest is thought to relate to proposed legislative changes which would reportedly give parliament more control over criminal prosecutions. The proposals have been criticised by the UK, UK and Canadian embassies.

The arrest comes amid growing discord in the ruling coalition between President Felix Tshisekedi and allies of his long-serving predecessor, Joseph Kabila, said Reuters.

Tshisekedi, which won the DRC’s general election in 2019, formed a coalition government between his UDPS and Kabila’s FCC.

“If they no longer want the coalition, we want to go directly towards cohabitation,” said Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, number two in Kabila’s party and a close ally of Tunda.

“I think we are living a turning point in the relation between FCC and (Tshisekedi’s) UDPS,” Fred Bauma from the Congo Research Group at New York University told Reuters.