25 January 2019, The Tablet

DRC Archbishop fears Tshisekedi could have little room to manoeuvre


Tshisekedi's victory was marred by accusations he had struck a deal with the outgoing president to deny victory to the opposition candidate


DRC Archbishop fears Tshisekedi could have little room to manoeuvre

Felix Tshisekedi
Photo: NICOLAS MAETERLINCK/Belga/PA Images

The leader of the Catholic Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo has said he fears that outgoing president, Joseph Kabila, will continue to control affairs of state even after he officially exits office.

The Archbishop of Kinshasa, Fridolin Ambongo, told the French broadcaster RFI on 25 January that there were concerns that Felix Tshisekedi, declared the winner of the disputed 30 December presidential election last week, could still have little room to manoeuvre.

“I am very worried that the same system will continue with the new president,” Archbishop Ambongo said.

The Archbishop said he hoped Tshisekedi would stick to his pledge to better the lives of Congolese people.

“The only message is that he does not forget where he comes from, he comes from the people, the people suffer,” the archbishop said.

Opposition leader Tshisekedi was sworn in as president of the DRC on 24 January.

"We are committed to building a modern, peaceful, democratic and caring state for every citizen, a state that will guarantee the happiness of all,” the president said in his inauguration speech.

Tshisekedi's victory in the December 30 election was marred by accusations he had struck a deal with the outgoing president to deny victory to the opposition candidate, Martin Fayulu, who has declared himself the rightful winner of the vote.

Kabila and Tshisekedi both strongly denied those allegations.

The Catholic bishops’ conference of the DRC, CENCO, have publicly disputed the provisional results of the presidential election, saying that the results did not tally with the findings of its 40,000 election observers.

Tshisekedi’s swearing-in ceremony follows more than two years of turmoil sparked by Kabila's refusal to step down when he reached the constitutional limit on his term in office. It also marks the first peaceful handover of power in the country for nearly 60 years.


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