DRC: Constitution

Updated January 2011

The Constitution was adopted by the transitional legislature of the DRC on May 5, 2005 and was ratified by the electorate in a referendum on December 18 and 19, 2005. It came into effect with the swearing in of Joseph Kabila as the newly elected president on 6 December 2006.

Until the Constitution was ratified and implemented the Constitution of the Transition, which was negotiated at the Inter-Congolese Dialogue, was in force.

CONSTITUTION[1] Constitution 2005[2].
FORM OF STATE Republic
HEAD OF STATE The President is the Head of State, Commander of The Armed Forces and guarantor of the Constitution. The president is elected by a plurality and the term of office is five years and only two terms may be served[3].
EXECUTIVE Executive power is vested in the President and Prime Minister, the former as Head of State, the latter as Head of Government[3]. The President convenes and chairs the Council of Ministers[4]. While the President is directly elected the Prime Minister must enjoy the support of Parliament[5]. Distinction is made between the Government (Prime Minister and Ministers) and the Council of Ministers (which includes the President)[6].
LEGISLATURE A bicameral parliament with a five year term.
The National Assembly has 500 seats elected from multimember plurality constituencies.
The Senate 104 seats elected by the Provincial Assemblies by proportional representation; eight from Kinshasa and four from each of the other 24 provinces. Past elected Presidents are ex officio members of the Senate [7].
JUDICIARY The judiciary is divided into three areas; the Appeal Court has jurisdiction over judicial matters, the Council of State over administrative matters and the Constitutional Court over constitutional issues. They are supported by lower civilian and military courts and tribunals[8]. Three members each of the Constitutional Court are appointed by the President, Parliament and the High Council of the judiciary. The latter is a body composed of the most senior members of the judiciary and has power to nominate, promote discipline and remove the judges other than judges of the Constitutional Court[9].
AMENDMENTS In general constitutional amendments must be made by a majority in both legislative houses and ratified by a referendum, or by a 3/5 majority of both houses sitting together[10]. Core constitutional provisions cannot be amended at all[11].

Table notes

[1] Mthembu-Salter, G 2002, 235-244; Constitution 2005.
[2] Constitution 2005, Articles 79, 90.
[3] Constitution 2005, Articles 69, 70, 71, 83. In 2006 the Constitution required that the president be elected by an absolute majority, but a 25 January 2011 constitutional amendment altered Article 71 to reduce the requirement to a simple majority, ie a plurality.
[4] Constitution 2005, 79.
[5] Constitution 2005, Articles 70, 71, 78, 90.
[6] Constitution 2005, Articles 79, 90. In making most executive decisions the President is obliged to consult with the Council of Ministers or the Prime Minister (Eg Articles 79, 81).
[7] Constitution 2005, Articles 100, 101, 103-105; Law 06/006, 115-119, 128-130.
[8] Constitution 2005, Articles 149, 153, 154, 160.
[9] Constitution 2005, Articles 158, 152.
[10] Constitution 2005, Article 218.
[11] Constitution 2005, Article 220. These include republican form, universal suffrage, representative government, presidential terms, judicial independence and political pluralism.

References

CONSTITUTION 2005.
Constitution de la République Démocratique du Congo 2005, [www] http://www.presidentrdc.cd/constitution.html [opens new window].

LAW 06/006 OF February 2006.
Loi 06/006 du Février 2006, Loi Electorale, [www] http://aceproject.org/ero-en/regions/africa/CD/drc-electoral-law-february-2006-french. [PDF document, opens new window].

MTHEMBU-SALTER, G 2002 "The Democratic Republic of the Congo: Recent History IN Africa South of the Sahara 2002, Murison, K (Ed), Europa Publications.

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