Parliament sinks into chaos for the second day as rival political groups throw chairs and buckets before police restore order.
The parliament of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) voted to authorize a motion to impeach the Speaker of the House, a move which, if successful, would give President Félix Tshisekedi a major victory in his power struggle with his predecessor, Joseph Kabila.
More than half of the body’s 500 representatives on Tuesday authorized a vote on the motion for Thursday, which would exclude Jeannine Mabunda, an ally of Kabila, from the presidency and pave the way for the formation of a pro-Tshisekedi majority .
It would mark a monumental shift of power towards Tshisekedi, who took office in January 2019 but was crippled by a coalition government with Kabila’s allies, which won parliamentary majorities in the same election.
By controlling a majority in parliament, Tshisekedi would be able to appoint a cabinet of his choice after two years in which Kabila’s allies dominated key ministries, frustrating the president’s ability to push his agenda forward.
After weeks of consultations with political leaders and others, Tshisekedi announced on Sunday that he would try to form a new majority in parliament by winning over members of the Kabila coalition and other small parties.
On Kabila’s side, Tshisekedi’s actions are illegal and the fighting bursts Monday and Tuesday between rival supporters.
On Tuesday, Tshisekedi supporters, some in fancy suits and shoes, threw chairs, wooden batons and plastic buckets down a staircase in the parliament building towards Kabila supporters who threw the items back.
A man was carried away with a bleeding head. The police eventually dispersed the crowd with tear gas.
The impasse has raised fears of new instability in the DRC, whose economy has been severely shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic, and whose recent history has been marked by repeated civil wars and political upheavals.
Kabila, who came to power in 2001, resigned last year after giving in to national and international pressure not to run for a third term. He is eligible to run again in 2023.