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DRC finance minister named premier

19 April 2012, 11:46

Kinshasa – Democratic Republic of Congo Finance Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo Mapon was on Wednesday appointed prime minister and asked to form a new government, nearly five months after legislative and presidential elections, state television announced.

The announcement was read by President Joseph Kabila's press director Andre Ngwej, who said the president had made the decision "in view of the urgency" of the situation.

Matata Ponyo, 47, had been finance minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo since February 2010.

The government headed by prime minister Adolphe Muzito resigned on 06 March.

The vast central Africa country held presidential and legislative elections on 28 November following a campaign marred by violence and claims by opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi of foul play.

Results for the presidential ballot were released in late December and returned incumbent Kabila, who has been in power since 2001, to office.

The polls were widely criticised as chaotic and riven with irregularities. Kabila's inauguration was largely snubbed by the international community.

The results of the legislative ballot were only announced on 01 February , giving Kabila's party and its allies control of parliament, albeit with a reduced majority.

More technocrat than politician

Matata Ponyo, who was born in the central city of Kindu but grew up in Kinshasa, previously worked at the Congo Central Bank and was director of the Central Coordination Bureau (BCeCO), an office created to manage authorised foreign investment in the country.

Since becoming finance minister two years ago, he has helped to stabilise Congo's economy and, in July 2010, secured a $12.3bn debt reduction as part of an international initiative to help out the most indebted nations.

More technocrat than politician, and with a reputation for rigour, his name had been circulating for some months as a possible replacement for Muzito.

The premiership had been held on an interim basis by the communications minister Louis Koyagialo since Muzito stood down.

Matata Ponyo survived a plane crash in the eastern city of Bukavu on February 12 in which six people died.

Conflict-prone DRC stretches over territory two-thirds the size of western Europe and is ranked the world's least developed state by the United Nations.



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