DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi on Sunday said he planned to form a new coalition government and warned he might be forced to dissolve parliament and hold fresh elections if he was unable to do so.
The announcement came after the failure of a coalition with supporters of predecessor Joseph Kabila who currently wield a majority in parliament.
Tshisekedi took over from Kabila in January 2019, in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s first peaceful transition since independence from Belgium in 1960.
But the president’s room for implementing much-trumpeted reforms was hampered by the need to forge a coalition with the pro-Kabila Common Front for the Congo (FCC).
On Sunday, he said on state-owned RTNC television that he had decided to name an official known as an “informer” who would be “charged with identifying a new coalition that included an absolute majority of National Assembly members”.
The procedure is laid out in the nation’s constitution.
Failing that, “I will use constitutional prerogatives I possess to come back to you, a sovereign people, and ask for a majority”, something that would involve anticipated general elections.
Tshisekedi said he had spent a month consulting with political parties and prominent figures and that an overwhelming majority rejected a coalition that included the FCC and his own Cap for Change (Cach) party.
“I noted that we need to put an end to the Cach-FCC coalition, which is seen as the main reason for the current blockage,” the president said.
Last week, the FCC said it still held more than 300 seats in the 500-seat parliament and accused Tshisekedi supporters of trying to bribe deputies to switch parties.
Kabila ruled the DRC for 18 years until he stepped down after long-delayed elections in December 2018.
He retains considerable clout through political allies and officers he appointed to the armed forces, and is also a senator for life.
In the runup to Sunday’s announcement, Tshisekedi conferred at length with senior members of the armed forces and police to ensure he had their support.