from JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA – THE Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is set to witness the first ever democratic transfer of power in about 59 years when Felix Tshisekedi is inaugurated as president on Thursday.
Tshisekedi (55) is to be sworn in at a ceremony in Kinshasa days after the Constitutional Court upheld his election and reject appeals for a recount by another opposition leader, Martin Fayulu.
The proclamation ended weeks of tensions over the poll held on December 30, two years after they were initially scheduled.
Tshisekedi will however be inaugurated amid defiance by Fayulu, who believes the poll was rigged.
This came after he secured 34,8 percent of the election, behind Tshisekedi’s 38,6 percent. Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, handpicked by outgoing president, Joseph Kabila, as the next leader, was third with 23,8 percent.
Over 28,3 million people cast their votes but some 2 million voters in areas affected by ethnic conflict and the Ebola outbreak could not participate. The inauguration was initially set for yesterday (Tuesday) but deferred for logistical reasons.
Tshisekedi is the son of the late Étienne Tshisekedi, a three-time Prime Minister of the then-Zaire.
He leads the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), the oldest and largest opposition party of the country.
Tshisekedi succeeds Kabila, whose rule from 2001 was marred by repression and widespread corruption.
Among his biggest challenges, apart from his disputed elections, is to contain a reign of terror by rebel groups, ethnic conflicts, excess outbreak of disease and rampant poverty.
The resources-rich country of over 80 million people has suffered incessant conflict since independence from Belgium in 1960.
Tshisekedi has received congratulatory messages from Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional member states and the African Union (AU).
– CAJ News