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Tshisekedi set for inauguration as DR Congo’s president

The ceremony will see the 55-year-old sworn in as president, replacing Joseph Kabila who has ruled DR Congo since 2001.

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President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Felix Tshisekedi arrives at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport to attend the 32nd African Union Leaders' Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on February 9, 2019. Minasse Wondimu Hailu / Anadolu Agency Minasse Wondimu Hailu / ANADOLU AGENCY

The Democratic Republic Congo has began plans to install Felix Tshisekedi, probably on Thursday, as its new president this week after a long and bitter election whose outcome was disputed by the runner-up and shunned by some western nations.

The ceremony will see the 55-year-old sworn in as president, replacing Joseph Kabila who has ruled DR Congo since 2001.

The inauguration looks set to draw a line under three weeks of growing tension over the long and drawn-out counting process after the December

30 vote, which provisionally declared Tshisekedi, one of two opposition candidates, the winner.

But the outcome was swiftly denounced by his opposition rival Martin Fayulu, who filed an appeal. He claimed he had been cheated of an outright victory by an “electoral coup” masterminded by Kabila with Tshisekedi’s approval.

Although leaked figures from the provisional count appear to be heavily in his favour, the Constitutional Court dismissed his appeal.

At stake is political stewardship of the mineral-rich but unstable central African nation.

Democratic Republic of Congo has a population of some 80 million and covers an area the size of western Europe.

– Clashes in Kinshasa –

Ahead of this week’s ceremony, tension was on Monday building in the capital.

Some 300 Fayulu supporters clashed there with motorbike taxi drivers whom they took for Tshisekedi supporters, leaving one driver nursing a serious head injury, an AFP correspondent said.

Several journalists were also hurt in the fracas. The Actualite news website said one of its reporters was “assaulted by police”, while others were attacked by Fayulu supporters who accused them of being pro-Tshisekedi.

Although the ceremony had been due to take place on Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the Cach opposition coalition that backed Tshisekedi said it was likely to happen on Thursday.

Jean-Pierre Kambila, a senior figure in Kabila’s outgoing cabinet, said the date would be settled later in the day.

– ‘Don’t encourage fraud’ –

Without a firm date, officials have been unable to send out invitations to foreign heads of state and government — and given the very public dispute over the result, it remains to be seen who will actually turn up.

The court’s dismissal of Fayulu’s appeal and its subsequent confirmation of Tshisekedi as president-elect has divided sub-Saharan Africa.

The 16-nation Southern African Development Community congratulated Tshisekedi, as did Kenya.

But the result won a mixed reception among the nine nations bordering DR Congo.

Burundi and Tanzania, who are working with Kinshasa to fight rebels on their common border, sent congratulations, while Republic of Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia and Angola remained silent.

Fayulu, who has declared himself “president-elect”, has urged the international community not to formally recognise Tshisekedi.

“I urge the African presidents who asked the Congolese people to respect the Constitutional Court’s decision, to respect the sovereign decision of the Congolese people who elected me president with more than 60 percent of the vote,” he wrote on Twitter.

“We should not encourage fraud, lies and falsehood,” he said.

– AU, EU unconvinced –

The AU had expressed “serious doubts” about the provisional result and urged the court to delay its announcement pending a visit by its chairman, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, and AU Commission president Moussa Faki on Monday.

But the weekend announcement caught the AU off guard, sweeping aside its concerns and prompting it to “postpone” the visit.

The European Union had also expressed reservations, saying “doubts remain regarding the conformity of the result”.

And France, which had openly disputed the provisional results, issued a low-key statement saying it “noted” Tshisekedi’s victory.

“This election allowed the Congolese people to strongly and calmly voice their desire for change,” the foreign ministry said, indicating the French ambassador would attend the ceremony.

“We hope the new president knows how to respond to this and we call on him to hold dialogue with the rest of country’s political actors to achieve that end.”

DR Congo’s influential Roman Catholic Church has dismissed the official result, saying it “does not correspond” with data collected by its 40,000 election monitors.

On paper, at least, DR Congo appears to be going through its first-ever peaceful handover of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

The president-elect, who has never held high office, is the son of DR Congo’s Etienne Tshisekedi, a veteran politician who founded the country’s oldest and largest opposition party.

In recent decades, DR Congo has lived through two regional wars (1996-97 and 1998-2003) with the last two presidential elections, in 2006 and 2011, marred by bloody clashes.

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Politics

Malawi opposition leader takes MP seat despite challenging presidential vote

The 64-year-old leader of the Malawi Congress Party, MCP, was sworn in at the Parliament Building on Monday, together with 60 others

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Lazarus Chakwera takes MP seat despite challenging presidential vote

Malawi opposition chief, Lazarus Chakwera, has been sworn in as a member of the country’s parliament. The swearing in took place in the capital Lilongwe following the May 21 elections, local media in Malawi reported on Monday.

The 64-year-old leader of the Malawi Congress Party, MCP, was sworn in at the Parliament Building on Monday, together with 60 others, while other lawmakers were scheduled to be sworn in today.

According to The Nation newspaper, Chakwera “took his oath of allegiance and office … amid cheers from scores of party supporters who accompanied him.”

Chakwera’s party, the MCP is currently challenging the official result of the presidential vote which saw incumbent Peter Mutharika win a second and final term in office whiles Chakwera came second.

The Malawian electoral system make provision for persons contesting for presidency and vice presidency to simultaneously contest for parliamentary seats.

 On the other hand, the incumbent vice president Saulos Chilima, who also contested in the presidential election, lost his parliamentary bid.

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Africa News & Updates

Morsi’s death: Timeline of events in Egypt since 2011 post-Mubarak era

Key dates in Egypt since the Tahrir Square-led revolt known which drove Hosni Mubarak out of power and events that led to Morsi’s death

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People carry images of Egypt's first popularly elected president Mohamed Morsi, who reportedly died from a heart attack on Monday

Former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi was buried in Cairo Tuesday, a day after he died following his collapse in court and nearly six years since his ouster by now President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, leaving the country in a leadership crisis as the incumbent plans perpetuity.

Here are key dates in Egypt since the Tahrir Square-led revolt known as the ‘January 25 revolution’ which drove Morsi’s predecessor Hosni Mubarak from power in February 2011.

Revolution

On January 25, 2011, thousands of Egyptians, inspired by the Tunisian revolt that toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, protest in Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt demanding longtime dictator Mubarak’s overthrow.

On February 11, after days of vast protests centred in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, Mubarak’s newly appointed vice president Omar Suleiman announces that the president has resigned and the army is in charge. 

A crackdown on the protests has left at least 850 dead.

Tens of thousands people take part in a mass rally against a decree by President Mohamed Morsi granting himself broad powers. News of Morsi's death are making the rounds in the media
Tens of thousands people take part in a mass rally against a decree by President Mohamed Morsi granting himself broad powers on November 27, 2012 at Egypt’s landmark Tahir Square in Cairo. Clashes between police and protesting youths erupted near Cairo’s Tahrir Square, ahead of the demonstration. The planned demonstrations came a day after Morsi stuck by his controversial decree in a meeting with judges that was aimed at defusing the worst political crisis since his election in June. AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA

Islamist victory

Islamist parties win a majority of seats at parliamentary elections between November 2011 and January 2012. 

On June 30, 2012, Morsi, a senior Muslim Brotherhood leader, wins 51.7 percent of the vote to become Egypt’s first civilian, democratically elected president. He is also the first Islamist to head the country.

Egypt’s military rulers dissolve parliament in June. In August, Morsi dismisses military chief Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and replaces him with Sisi, in a purge of top brass.

Morsi ousted

On July 3, 2013, following massive protests against Morsi’s divisive rule, the military led by Sisi overthrows Morsi and detains him. Morsi denounces a coup and calls on his supporters to defend his legitimacy.

On August 14, police disperse two pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo, killing about 700 people in clashes, according to official figures.

The government names the Muslim Brotherhood a “terrorist organisation” in December.

Ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi greeting press members as he stands behind the bars. Morsi's Death has been reported
Ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi greeting press members as he stands behind the bars during his trial on charges of espionage on behalf of Qatar at the Police Academy in Cairo, Egypt. /Mohamed Gamil / Anadolu Agency

President Sisi

Sisi is elected president with 96.9 percent of the vote in May 2014. His election comes after the approval of a new constitution bolstering the military’s powers.

In late 2015 a new parliament is elected, packed with Sisi supporters.

Repression

Sisi presides over a fierce clampdown. Hundreds of suspected Islamists are sentenced to death or life in prison in mass trials slammed by rights groups.

Secular opposition activists are also jailed.

Local and international rights groups accuse the regime of torture, forced disappearances, summary executions and repression of dissent.

The authorities deny the accusations, pointing to the need for stability and the fight against terrorism.

Jihadist threat

The country also witnesses deadly attacks, perpetrated mainly by the Islamic State group, which kills hundreds of police officers and soldiers in attacks centred on the Sinai peninsula.

On October 31, 2015, a Russian airliner carrying tourists from an Egyptian beach resort explodes after taking off, killing all 224 people on board. IS says it had planted a bomb on the plane.

On November 24, 2017, a suspected IS attack on a mosque in the Sinai leaves more than 300 dead.

More than 100 die in attacks on Christians, also claimed by the group.

In February 2018, the army launches a vast “anti-terrorist” operation.

Backing for Sisi

In February 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin travels to Cairo for the first time in a decade and signs a deal to build the first Egyptian nuclear power plant.

In March 2015, the Obama administration lifts a partial freeze on military assistance decided after Morsi’s overthrow.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia visits Egypt in April 2016.

In April 2017, US President Donald Trump praises Sisi as the Egyptian leader visits Washington. Sisi is hosted at the White House for a second time in April 2019.

In October 2018, Sisi visits Paris, where he receives strong support from President Emmanuel Macron, who in turn visits Egypt the following January.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (C-R) shaking hands with US Marine Corps General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. (L) days before Morsi's Death
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (C-R) shaking hands with US Marine Corps General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. (L), commander of the US Central Command (USCENTCOM), as Sisi and Defence Minister General Mohamed Zaki (R) receive the General at the presidential palace in the capital Cairo. (Photo by – / EGYPTIAN PRESIDENCY / AFP) /

Sisi boosted

In March 2018, Sisi is re-elected with 97.08 percent of the vote. His only opponent is one of his supporters.

In April 2019, a controversial constitutional revision allowing the extension of Sisi’s presidency and strengthening his powers is approved by referendum.

Morsi dies

People wave flags of Egypt during a protest against the military government in Egypt after Egypt's first popularly elected president Mohamed Morsi, who reportedly died from a heart attack on Monday at a court session
People wave flags of Egypt during a protest against the military government in Egypt after Egypt’s first popularly elected president Mohamed Morsi, who reportedly died from a heart attack on Monday at a court session, at the Times General Square in New York, United States on June 17, 2019. Atilgan Ozdil / Anadolu Agency

On June 17, 2019, Morsi collapses in court during a retrial over charges of collaborating with foreign powers and militant groups.

He arrives at hospital dead, according to the attorney general’s office.

Rights groups say the Islamist was denied medical treatment in detention and demand an investigation.

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Africa News & Updates

UN wants government to end terrorist bombings in northeast Nigeria

“This is another terribly sad day for civilians in northeast Nigeria and for the humanitarians who are working to help them”

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Red Cross officials attend to victims of a triple suicide bombing, in Konduga, 38 kilometres

The United Nations has condemned the multiple suicide bombings in the northeast of the country that killed 30 people, including a community volunteer and injured 40 others.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon said in a statement in Abuja on Monday that the government must deploy more security solutions to end the spate of terrorist bombings in that part of the country.

“This is another terribly sad day for civilians in northeast Nigeria and for the humanitarians who are working to help them,” Kallon said in the statement.

“The UN and its partners deplore these abhorrent acts of violence and call for those responsible for these attacks to be swiftly brought to justice,” he said.

“Our deepest condolences go to the families of the victims in Konduga,” the UN chief said. “We hope all those injured can access the urgent medical attention they require and wish them a full recovery.”

Three bombers detonated their explosives outside a hall in Konduga, 38 kilometres (24 miles) from the Borno state capital Maiduguri, where football fans were watching a match on TV on Sunday evening. 

Although no group has claimed responsibility, the attack bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram, which is seeking to impose a hardline Islamic law in Nigeria’s mainly-Muslim north. 

A victim is attended by health officials, following a triple suicide bombing in Konduga, 38
Graphic content / A victim is attended by health officials, following a triple suicide bombing in Konduga, 38 kilometres (24 miles) from the Borno state capital Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria, on June 17, 2019. – Thirty people were killed late on June 16 in a triple suicide bombing in northeast Nigeria, emergency services reported, in an attack bearing the hallmarks of the Boko Haram jihadist group. Three bombers detonated their explosives outside a hall in Konduga, 38 kilometres (24 miles) from the Borno state capital Maiduguri, where football fans were watching a match on TV. (Photo by Audu Ali MARTE / AFP)

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari condemned “the heinous acts”, releasing a statement urging security agents to track down the perpetrators and devise strategies to prevent a recurrence. 

Buhari, a 76-year-old retired general, who was re-elected in February, is facing mounting demands to improve security. 

The last suicide attack was in April carried out by two female suicide bombers outside the garrison town of Monguno, killing a soldier and a vigilante. 

Konduga has been repeatedly targeted by suicide bombers from a Boko Haram faction loyal to longtime leader Abubakar Shekau. 

The faction typically attacks  soft civilian targets such as mosques, markets and bus stations, often using young women as bombers. 

Boko Haram’s insurgency has claimed more than 27,000 lives and forced two million to flee their homes, sparking a dire humanitarian crisis. 

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