DR Congo names Judith Suminwa as first female prime minister

DR Congo names Judith Suminwa as first female prime minister
Judith Suminwa Tuluka was appointed DR Congo's fist female prime minister, on April 1, 2024.

Kinshasa, DR Congo | By Michael Wandati | Felix Tshisekedi, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), announced on Monday 1, April 2024 the appointment of Judith Suminwa as the new Prime Minister, marking a historic moment as she becomes the first woman to hold this position in the country.

Ms. Suminwa takes over from Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde, who stepped down from his post at the end of February in accordance with legal requirements after securing a parliamentary seat.

Prior to her appointment as Prime Minister, Judith Suminwa served as the Minister for Planning since March 2023.

Her selection comes after a period of uncertainty following Tshisekedi’s inauguration for a second term in January. The process of forming a majority coalition in the National Assembly, a crucial prerequisite for naming a prime minister and establishing a government, took several weeks.

Now tasked with forming a new government, Ms. Suminwa will navigate the complexities of a coalition comprising the President’s party and numerous political factions.

The authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are confronted with a multitude of challenges, including an escalating conflict and humanitarian emergency in the eastern regions, as well as the effective management of the country’s abundant mineral resources.

In the eastern regions, particularly North Kivu, significant portions of DRC territory are being seized by M23 rebels, exacerbating the existing conflict.

Meanwhile, major urban centers such as Kinshasa are grappling with the serious threat of urban banditry. Additionally, the economic crisis has been aggravated by a sharp depreciation of the local currency.

“I am aware of the great responsibility… We will work for peace and the development of the country,” Suminwa said on national television.

 “I know that the task and the challenges are immense. But together, with the head of State, the government and the support of the Congolese people, we will succeed.”

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“My thoughts go out to the East and to all the corners of our country that are now facing conflicts with enemies who are sometimes hidden, who do not reveal themselves, but who will be found one way or another,” she added.

In his first term, Tshisekedi pledged to eradicate pervasive corruption, rejuvenate the economy, address profound social disparities, and mitigate insecurity in the eastern regions. However, critics argue that he failed to deliver on these fronts.

The newly appointed Prime Minister was not a prominent figure in Congolese politics until her appointment as Minister for Planning in March 2023.

Holding a master’s degree in applied economics from the Université Libre de Bruxelles, she previously worked in the banking sector before transitioning to roles within United Nations agencies, including the UNDP.