Judith Suminwa Tuluka, first woman appointed Prime Minister of the DRC

HomepoliticsJudith Suminwa Tuluka, first woman appointed Prime Minister of the DRC

Kenya Nicol


Judith Suminwa Tuluka, Minister of Planning, has just been appointed Prime Minister. This is the first time that a woman will head the government in the Democratic Republic of Congo, just over three months after the re-election of President Félix Tshisekedi.

“The challenges are immense”

“I know the task is great, the challenges are immense, but together (…) we’ll get there,” she declared on national television just after the announcement of her appointment.

Judith Suminwa Tuluka, aged around 50, succeeds Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde, Prime Minister since February 2021, who tendered his resignation on February 21.

With a master’s degree in economics and a native of Kongo Central (west), the Prime Minister will have to implement the commitments of Félix Tshisekedi’s second term in office, in a security context still under high tension.

Félix Tshisekedi, in power since 2019

Félix Tshisekedi, 60, had been in power since January 2019. He was widely re-elected on December 20 for a second five-year term, winning over 73% of the vote in general elections described as a “sham” by his opponents.

The parties supporting him also took over 90% of the seats in the National Assembly. This gives him plenty of room to pursue his policies. During his election campaign, the President had called on his compatriots to give him a new mandate to “consolidate the gains” of the first. In particular, he highlighted free primary education.

He also promised to create jobs, diversify the economy, develop agriculture and protect household purchasing power. For even if the DRC’s subsoil is immensely rich in minerals, the country remains one of the world’s poorest nations, with two-thirds of its 100 million inhabitants living below the poverty line.

“Taking advantage of resources

The United Nations also estimates that some seven million people are “internally displaced” as a result of the conflict, which has been plagued by armed violence for three decades, particularly in the east of the country.

At the start of his first mandate, Félix Tshisekedi promised to do everything in his power to restore peace there, but failed to do so. The situation has even deteriorated in North Kivu, which has been plagued for over two years by a new rebellion, the “M23” (“March 23rd Movement”), which, with the support of neighboring Rwanda, has seized vast swathes of the province.

While waiting for the Congolese army to “rise to power”, the regime has called on regional forces, foreign instructors and “patriotic” armed groups to fight the rebels.

“Shooting from all sides

But so far, it has failed to retake conquered areas, and accuses the international community of complicity with the rebels and their Rwandan godfather. Diplomatic initiatives have also failed. This conflict is adding to a political climate that has not calmed down since the elections. The headline in a Kinshasa newspaper (AfricaNews) recently read: “There’s fire everywhere”, after a weekend of inflammatory statements.

Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, the archbishop of Kinshasa, is known for his highly critical stance towards those in power. During Easter mass, he declared that the country was “in agony” and had “no army”.

Judith Suminwa Tuluka “for peace and development” in the DRC

For his part, Augustin Kabuya, ebullient secretary general of Félix Tshisekedi’s party (Union pour la démocratie et le progrès social, UDPS), accused former president Joseph Kabila (2001-2019) of supporting the M23. The former head of state’s camp described these remarks as “irresponsible”, and said they were intended to mask the UDPS’s “inability” to “manage the country”.

“I am aware of my great responsibility”, Judith Suminwa Tuluka insisted once again, saying she wanted to work “for peace and development” in the DRC, so that “the Congolese people can benefit from the country’s resources”.

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