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Updated May 13, 2020

 

Vital Kamerhe
Vital Kamerhe (center) and Félix Tshisekedi (right) at a news conference in 2018.

 

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, President Félix Tshisekedi’s former chief of staff, Vital Kamerhe, appeared briefly in court on Monday on the charge of embezzlement before the trial was adjourned until May 25.

Kamerhe and others are accused of embezzling at least US$50 million worth of funds that were set aside for the president’s 100-days program, a public-works initiative that has funded infrastructure-construction projects as well as access to electricity and clean water. Kamerhe denies the charge.

 

Speculation abounds as to whether the CACH coalition will hold.

 

The trial has gripped the nation since Kamerhe’s arrest in early April, which was the end product of months of inquiries and investigations initiated by NGOs, high-ranking members of the ruling Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party, and the Kinshasa/Matete Court of Appeal. Besides his role in Tshisekedi’s cabinet, Kamerhe also served as the political glue holding the Heading for Change (CACH) minority coalition together in his role as leader of the Union for the Congolese Nation (UNC) party, which is one of the parties in the coalition, along with Tshisekedi’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party.

With Kamerhe’s arrest, speculation abounds as to whether the CACH coalition will hold, seeing as tensions between Tshisekedi’s UDPS and ex-president Joseph Kabila’s Common Front for Congo (FCC) coalition have arisen in the past.

 

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