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The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has finally announced a new government after over five months of uncertainty following President Felix Tshisekedi’s re-election in December. The new 54-member cabinet includes Guy Kabombo Muadiamvita as the defence minister, whose role is crucial in the face of an attempted coup and ongoing conflict in the mineral-rich east of the country between the Congolese army and Rwanda-backed M23 rebels.

President Tshisekedi, who came to power in 2019, had promised to transform the DRC into the “Germany of Africa”. However, delays in forming a government were attributed to the need for different parties in the ruling coalition to find a compromise. Despite naming Judith Suminwa as the country’s first female prime minister and appointing his ex-chief of staff convicted for embezzlement as parliament speaker, Tshisekedi has faced criticism for his failure to utilize the nation’s vast mineral wealth to improve the living conditions of the impoverished population.

The DRC is estimated to have $24 trillion in untapped mineral resources such as cobalt and coltan, yet the majority of the population struggles in poverty, making the country one of the five poorest in the world according to the World Bank. The ongoing conflict in the east, a legacy of the Rwandan genocide, has also been draining the DRC’s wealth, with as many as 200 armed groups vying for control of the mineral-rich region. The Congolese government has estimated that the country is losing $1 billion a year due to illicit trade, with minerals like coltan being smuggled to neighboring countries like Rwanda.

The failed coup attempt on May 19, led by US-based DRC opposition figure Christian Malanga and other armed individuals, resulted in several casualties including two security guards and a civilian. Human Rights Watch has called for fair prosecution of the participants, noting that the events followed a crackdown on rights to free expression, media freedom, and peaceful assembly dating back to 2020. The group also emphasized the need for the Congolese government to uphold human rights and the rule of law in response to the crisis.

With the new government in place, the DRC faces challenges in addressing the ongoing conflict in the east, managing its vast mineral wealth, and improving the living conditions of its population. President Tshisekedi’s administration will need to prioritize stability, economic development, and human rights to address the deep-rooted issues facing the country. As the DRC moves forward, it will be essential for the government to demonstrate its commitment to transparency, accountability, and inclusivity to foster sustainable progress.

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