Connect with us

Central Africa Politics

Etienne Tshisekedi’s body arrives in Kinshasa for funeral

Felix Tshisekedi vowed to repatriate his father’s remains and bury them in his home country

Published

on

Etienne Tshisekedi's body arrives in Kinshasa for funeral

The body of Etienne Tshisekedi, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s revered opposition leader and former prime minister, arrived in Kinshasa on Thursday, an emotional moment for the country after his son Felix became president earlier this year.

An opponent of authoritarianism in DRC, Tshisekedi died in Belgium in February 2017 at the age of 84, unable to witness his son’s victory in bitterly contested elections at the end of last year.

Felix Tshisekedi vowed to repatriate his father’s remains and bury them in his home country – a goal that faced multiple obstacles under his predecessor Joseph Kabila.

After a last-minute delay to a scheduled Wednesday departure, a jet carrying the body arrived from Brussels in Kinshasa airport on Thursday evening.

His son Felix led a delegation at the airport, where a hearse decorated in the national colours waited, journalists at the scene said.

A white coffin draped in the national, flag was unloaded from the plane and escorted away by white-gloved attendants. Several thousand supporters and well-wishers waited outside the airport.

The programme of mourning includes a display of the body, a mass and rally on Friday at an 80,000-seat stadium in Kinshasa.

It will be followed by a funeral on Saturday in Nsele, on the eastern outskirts of the capital. Six African heads of state are expected, including the presidents of Angola, the neighbouring Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Togo, according to the DRC presidency.

Thorn in dictator’s side

Etienne Tshisekedi spent decades in politics but never reached the top job.

He served as interior minister under Mobutu Sese Seko, before joining the opposition, where he was a persistent thorn in the dictator’s side. 

He co-founded the UDPS in 1982 after a stint in prison and in the 1990s was appointed prime minister several times, each time falling out with Mobutu after a matter of months or even days.

In 1997, Mobutu was ousted in a rebellion led by Joseph Kabila’s father Laurent. Tshisekedi quickly became an opponent of the new regime, a stance that continued after Laurent Kabila’s assassination in 2001 and the rise of his son Joseph.

Tshisekedi refused to recognise Kabila’s legitimacy to the very last.

He boycotted the country’s elections in 2006 on the grounds of fraud, and was beaten in the 2011 ballot, which was tainted by massive irregularities. 

“His fight for democracy, freedom and dignity inspires us all,” opponent Moise Katumbi, Congolese politician and businessman, wrote in a message on Twitter.

Almost two years after his death, Felix Tshisekedi was sworn in January 24 as president after elections that saw Kabila step down after 18 years in power.

It was the first peaceful transition of power since the DRC gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

The handover however was marred by allegations of election rigging and by Kabila’s continued domination of politics after amassing extensive clout during his years in office.

Copyright News Central

All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

New stories delivered to your phone

Click here to have news stories delivered to your phone or mail. You can also share your stories with us. Join our mailing list here.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Central Africa Politics

Ali Bongo joins independence celebration in Libreville

The public outings were the first time Gabonese have seen their leader beyond the presidential palace since he fell ill last October

Published

on

Ali Bongo joins independence celebration in Libreville
Gabon's President Ali Bongo (C-L) and his wife Sylvia Bongo (C-R) sit on the tribune as they attend a parade during the country's independence day celebration in Libreville, on August 17, 2019, marking its independence from France in 1960. - Ali Bongo on August 17, 2019 made a rare public appearance to attend the country's independence day celebrations, nearly ten months after suffering a stroke that fueled speculation about his ability to rule. (Photo by Steve JORDAN / AFP)

Gabon’s President Ali Bongo on Saturday made a rare public appearance to attend the country’s independence day celebrations, nearly ten months after suffering a stroke that fueled speculation about his ability to rule. 

Bongo, whose every move is scrutinised for signs of his state of health, on Friday made his first public appearance since his illness, taking part in events on the eve of celebrations to mark Gabon’s independence. 

The public outings were the first time Gabonese have seen their leader beyond the presidential palace since he fell ill last October, except for appearances filmed and edited by Gabonese government or state media.

Standing straight in an army vehicle, in a dark suit and dark glasses, Bongo on Saturday arrived at the military parade on Libreville’s main boulevard along the capital’s seafront. 

President Ali Bongo of Gabon on August 16, 2019 made his first live appearance in public nearly 10 months after suffering a stroke, attending ceremonies in the capital Libreville. (Photo by STEVE JORDAN / AFP)

Early on Saturday morning, many people had flocked to the seafront, trying to make their way through many security barriers to catch a glimpse of their leader.

“There are people who said he was sick, but he was able to greet us,” said Mama Youssouf, a young spectator in the crowd.

Speculation about 60-year-old Bongo’s capacity to rule the country surged after he suffered a stroke while in Saudi Arabia.

He was flown to Morocco for treatment, returning in January. During his extended absence, the army quashed a brief attempted coup.

Ten members of Gabon’s political opposition, civil society and trade union movement have filed a suit requesting Bongo be assessed to see whether he is medically fit to continue in office.

A lower court dismissed the case in May, saying only the two houses of parliament, or the Constitutional Court acting for the government, were empowered to determine whether the president was unfit.

But the Court of Appeal has said it would hear an appeal by the plaintiffs and set a date for it — August 26.

Bongo succeeded his father Omar Bongo, who became head of state in 1967 and died in June 2009, leaving a legacy of corruption allegations.

Copyright News Central

All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

New stories delivered to your phone

Click here to have news stories delivered to your phone or mail. You can also share your stories with us. Join our mailing list here.

Continue Reading

Central Africa News

DR Congo authorities ban rallies in Kinshasa as tensions rise

Tensions rose in the capital after youths announced they would hold a protest against the candidacy of a former justice minister

Published

on

UDPS opposition party leader Felix Tshisekedi gestures to supporters as Authorities bans rallies

DR Congo authorities have banned political rallies this week in the capital Kinshasa because of tensions between supporters of President Felix Tshisekedi and those of former leader Joseph Kabila, police said Sunday.

Tshisekedi was elected in December to replace Kabila who presided over sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest country for nearly two decades.

Tensions rose in the capital after the youth wing of Tshisekedi’s Democracy and Social Progress party (UDPS) announced it would hold a protest against the candidacy of a former justice minister for the senate presidency.

In response, the pro-Kabila Red Berets movement said it would hold a counter-march to support the candidacy of Alexis Thambwe, who is considered by many a hardliner from the Kabila regime.

Read also: Zuma to testify at South Africa’s graft probe

Kinshasa police chief General Sylvano Kasongo told state television that given the tensions in the capital, Kinshasa’s governor had banned all political rallies for this week. “He instructed the police to take all appropriate measures. Anyone who attempts to march or disturb the public order this week will find the police in their way,” he said.

UDPS youth wing spokesman Fils Mukoko told reporters they wanted to protest against seeing “the same faces in charge of the country’s institutions or in the government.”

Kabila’s Common Front for Congo (FCC) coalition won comfortable majorities in both houses of parliament as well as provincial assemblies, and his supporters also dominated elections for the governorships across the country.

Read also: GNA announces a new political plan, promises elections in Libya

None of the candidates the FCC presented for seven key Senate posts is from Tshisekedi’s CACH alliance in the legislature despite an agreement to work together between the two political blocs.

Six months after Tshisekedi’s inauguration and more than a month after the appointment of Prime Minister Ilunga Ilunkamba, who was proposed by Kabila, CACH and FCC negotiators are still struggling to agree on the composition of the government.

Copyright News Central

All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

New stories delivered to your phone

Click here to have news stories delivered to your phone or mail. You can also share your stories with us. Join our mailing list here.

Continue Reading

Central Africa Politics

Cameroon’s government keeps postponing local elections for ‘no reason’

On July 11, 2018, the elections were postponed a first time using the same method.

Kathleen Ndongmo

Published

on

Anti-Paul Biya Protesters demonstrate in front of the Eiffel tower in Paris, France,

Cameroon President Paul Biya said Monday he was delaying local elections to 2020, a declaration read on the radio said Monday, the second time in two years that the poll has been postponed.

“The mandate of municipal councillors elected on September 30, 2013 has been extended until February 29, 2020,” Biya declared, which essentially sets the poll back until that date.

No reason was given for the extension.

On July 11, 2018, the elections were postponed a first time using the same method.

Biya, who is 86, has been in power for 36 years.

Legislative elections could now be delayed as well because the government wants to hold them at the same time to cut costs, according to deputies.

Cameroon is in the midst of a security crisis that has pitted separatist English-speaking regions in the west against the French-speaking population elsewhere.

In the north, the Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram stages regular armed attacks as well.

The country is also facing political ructions, with the head of the opposition Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC), Maurice Kamto, and about 100 of the party’s supporters still in jail after their arrest in January.

Copyright News Central

All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

New stories delivered to your phone

Click here to have news stories delivered to your phone or mail. You can also share your stories with us. Join our mailing list here.

Continue Reading

Trending