DRC court to rule on corruption charges against presidential ally

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) will today announce a ruling on the corruption and graft charges against Vital

DRC presidential aide and former National Assembly president Vital Kamerhe

Photo: Adia Tshipuku / AFP

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) will today announce a ruling on the corruption and graft charges against Vital Kamerhe, the former National Assembly president and President Felix Tshisekedi’s current chief of staff.

Prosecutors are making the case that Kamerhe embezzled public funds from the 100-day social work programme he managed. Kamerhe maintains his innocence, arguing that the accusation is political sabotage intended to prevent him from running for office again in 2023. The prosecution is requesting 20 years of hard labour and a 10-year ban from politics should Kamerhe be convicted.

The case against Kamerhe appears strong as there is clear evidence of financial irregularities within the 100-day timeline. Kamerhe has also been implicated in the death of previous trial judge Raphael Yanyi, which is currently under investigation. President Tshisekedi allegedly promised both the premiership and future electoral backing to Kamerhe in exchange for his support in the 2018 election, only to renege on his promises. The coalition government—composed of Tshisekedi’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) and Kamerhe’s Union for the Congolese Nation—may suffer with party leaders now pitted against each other. Major political unrest appears unlikely as the coalition was already weak and a guilty verdict may allow an increasingly hardline UDPS stance against corruption.

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