DR Congo creates 2 top courts, completing judicial reform

DR Congo's Supreme Court, seen here sitting in 2014, has now been disbanded and divided into three separate entities.  By Junior D. Kannah (AFP/File)

DR Congo’s Supreme Court, seen here sitting in 2014, has now been disbanded and divided into three separate entities. By Junior D. Kannah (AFP/File)

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will establish a top appeals court and a Council of State after Joseph Kabila signed an executive order paving the way for their creation, state television said Tuesday.

The move completes a judicial reform first outlined in 2006 in the constitution which envisaged the former Supreme Court being split into three separate branches.

But it was only in 2013 that Kabila began the process, ordering the creation of the Constitutional Court.

To complete the restructuring, Kabila has now issued several executive orders naming those tasked with establishing the Court of Cassation and the Council of State as well as the prosecutors who will be attached to them, the state-run RTNC reported.

Justice Jerome Kitoko, who was president of the now-defunct Supreme Court, will take over as head of the Court of Cassation which deals with cases involving political figures and has the final say in legal challenges, whether civil, criminal or commercial.

Flory Kabange Numbi, who has until now served as attorney general, will become the court’s chief prosecutor.

Felix Vunduawe, one of the Constitutional Court judges and a former chief of staff under the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko (1965-1997), has been named first president of the Council of State, which is the top authority for administrative justice.

Retired former attorney general Mushangalusha Ndoyodeza has been recalled to serve as the Council of State’s chief prosecutor.

The DRC, rich in minerals but mired in poverty, is one of the most volatile countries in the world.

The country is in the grip of an escalating political crisis. Presidential elections, twice postponed, are scheduled to be held in December, but Kabila, in power since 2001, has so far refrained from saying whether he will run again.

Under the constitution, he is barred from seeking a third term. His second term expired at the end of December 2016, but he stayed on under a constitutional clause enabling the president to remain in office until his successor is elected.

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