Kinshasa – President Felix Tshisekedi on Friday confirmed his controversial pick for the head of Democratic Republic of Congo’s election commission, days after police fired tear gas at protesters opposed to his appointment.
“I have decided to sign the ordinance designating the members of the new office of the Ceni (National Independent Electoral Commission),” Tshisekedi announced on public television.
“I strongly urge them to work for the organisation of free, democratic and transparent elections within the constitutional deadline,” he added.
Last Saturday, the National Assembly endorsed Denis Kadima, a close friend of the president, as the commission president.
The same day protesters voiced their opposition against the proposals from six religious groups to install Kadima in the position, accusing him of corruption and closeness to Tshisekedi.
The opposition demonstrators tore down a statue of Tshisekedi as well as a flag of his Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party, and clashed with ruling party activists who tried to stop the protest.
The demonstration was headed by Martin Fayulu, who contested the 2018 presidential election, and former prime minister Adolphe Muzito.
Fayulu warned that, if Kadima was given the post, he and his supporters would go to the parliament building to “prevent preparations for a new electoral fraud”.
The National Assembly’s endorsement of Kadima and the other proposed commission members followed several weeks of stalemate caused by the refusal of the Catholic Church’s National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) and the ECC, the largest Protestant church, to endorse Kadima.
Tshisekedi came to power in January 2019, succeeding Joseph Kabila.
The next presidential election is set for December 2023.
Picture: Getty Images