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Congo president vows not to accept judicial reforms that cause ‘harm’


Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi arrives at the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London, Britain January 20, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi said on Monday he would not accept any reforms that undermined the independence of the judiciary, the latest salvo in a standoff within the ruling coalition over proposed judicial changes.

The disagreement over a proposal to give the justice ministry more control over criminal prosecutions has highlighted strains in the coalition between Tshisekedi and allies of his long-serving predecessor, Joseph Kabila.

It led last week to the brief arrest of the justice minister, prompting the prime minister to threaten the resignation of the government.

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In an address to the nation to mark Democratic Republic of Congo’s 60th anniversary of independence from Belgium, Tshisekedi alluded to the dispute.

“Under no circumstances will I accept reforms in this sector which, by their nature and content, would harm the fundamental principles governing justice,” he said.

Tshisekedi came to power in January 2019, forming a coalition with Kabila, who maintains extensive powers through his parliamentary majority and control of most cabinet ministries and the prime minister’s office.

In his wide-ranging speech, Tshisekedi affirmed his commitment to working with the coalition.

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But “let me take this symbolic occasion of commemorating independence to reaffirm that no majority, political or parliamentary … can overstep the founding principles of the republic,” he warned.

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