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DR Congo President Names Judith Suminwa Tuluka as First Woman PM

Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi has appointed the country’s first-ever female prime minister, naming planning minister Judith Suminwa to the role.

An economist, she takes over as prime minister from Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde, following Tshisekedi’s sweeping re-election as president on December 20.

Tshisekedi’s inauguration for a second term in January kick-started a lengthy search for a majority coalition in the National Assembly – a key step before a prime minister could be named and a government formed.

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“I am aware of the great responsibility … We will work for peace and the development of the country,” Suminwa said on national television on Monday.

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Tshisekedi officially triumphed with 73.47 percent of the vote in December, and the election passed largely peacefully in a country long torn by violence and instability.

The opposition branded the ballot a sham.

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Voting was officially extended by a day due to logistical snarls, and polls were open for days afterwards in remote areas.

PM’s challenges

Parties supporting Tshisekedi garnered more than 90 percent of the seats in parliament, allowing him to legislate with ease.

The new prime minister will be tasked with pushing the president’s declared priorities of employment, youth, women and national cohesion for the nation of about 100 million people.

Tshisekedi first became president in 2019 promising to improve living conditions in the DR Congo – which boasts mineral riches but has a largely impoverished population – and put an end to 25 years of bloodshed in the east.

The president failed to keep those promises, but he campaigned for a second term on his achievements such as free primary medication, asking for another mandate to “consolidate” the progress.

According to the United Nations, some seven million people have been internally displaced by conflict in the DR Congo, one of the world’s poorest countries.

The security situation has worsened in North Kivu province, where a Rwanda-backed rebel group M23 has seized swathes of territory over the last two years.


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