Felix Tshisekedi takes office as new president of DR Congo

World Today

Felix Tshisekedi takes office as new president of DR Congo

A new president in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Felix Tshisekedi has been sworn into office in the country’s first peaceful transfer of executive power in the nearly 60 years since independence. His first policy move — the release of all political prisoners. CGTN’s Thuli Tshabalala has details.

It’s a day that will go down in the history books: the first peaceful transition of power since independence 59 years ago. The son of the founder of Congo’s longest-running opposition party has been sworn into office as President of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In his first speech, Felix Tshisekedi called for reconciliation and vowed to promote development in peace and security.

“We want to build a strong Congo, with its cultural diversity and its attachment to the mother land, a Congo turned toward its development in peace and security, a Congo for all in which everyone has a place,” Tshisekedi said in his inaugural speech.

It was a jubilant occasion. Hundreds of Congolese came to witness the inauguration ceremony. Just hours before, outgoing President Joseph Kabila praised the election process and congratulated his successor.

“It is also symbolic of the growing crystallisation of democratic culture in our country that the lucky elected official, the beneficiary of this historic alternation as the head of the State, came from the opposition party,” Kabila said. “This is the opportunity for me to reiterate, on your behalf as well as on my own, our congratulations and best wishes for the success of President-elect Felix Antoine Tshisekedi.”

The Constitutional Court declared Tshisekedi the winner of the December 30 poll with 38.5 percent of the votes,and 34.7 percent for his rival, Martin Fayulu. But the decision was controversial. While the southern African regional group, SADC ,and the U.S. State Department have welcomed Tshisekedi’s victory, the African Union, cancelled plans to send a delegation to the inauguration.

Only time will tell whether Kabila will continue to play a leading role in the country. His party is the biggest in the new parliament, but as Tshisekedi and Kabila stand side by side, they signal a new dawn for the Democratic Republic of Congo.