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Congo replaces sanctioned army chief with deputy also sanctioned...

por Emerson Laseron (2020-08-18)

KINSHASA, Quế Lâm July 17 (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi has appointed a new head of the army to replace General John Numbi, state television said on Friday.

Both Numbi and his designated successor, General Gabriel Amisi Kumba, are under U.S.
and European Union sanctions for repression and abuses directed against opposition figures and protesters under former president Joseph Kabila.

Tshisekedi's office did not give a reason for the reshuffle.

The last month has seen rising tensions in the ruling coalition between supporters of Tshisekedi and those of Kabila, who maintains extensive power through his parliamentary majority, control of most cabinet ministries, and influence in the army.

Until now, Kumba was Numbi's number two and head of territorial operations of the Congolese Armed Forces.

Both were promoted to their posts by Kabila in mid-2018.

The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Tibor Nagy, said: "We welcome that U.S.-sanctioned General John Numbi is no longer in his post. The United States supports President Tshisekedi's commitment to improving human rights and professionalising the Congolese armed forces."

In the post on Twitter, Nagy did not comment on the choice of Kumba as Numbi's successor.

Tshisekedi also nominated three new members to the constitutional court, according to state television.

He has been struggling to prove he has the political strength to follow through on election promises to modernise the country and stamp out corruption since coming to power in 2019.

(Reporting by Stanis Bujakera Writing by Alessandra Prentice Editing by Mark Heinrich and Rosalba O'Brien)