June 29, 2020 / 10:44 PM / in 15 days

Congo president vows not to accept judicial reforms that cause 'harm'

FILE PHOTO: 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

KINSHASA (Reuters) - 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.

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.

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.

Reporting by Stanis Bujakera and Fiston Mahamba; Writing by Herward Holland and Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Chris Reese and Lincoln Feast.

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