Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

DRC Congo becomes new symbol of stability in the region

22.05.2019
Article from AFRIC editorial
After taking office, President Felix Tshisekedi made a number of visits to neighboring countries to demonstrate the political will for rapprochement and regional cooperation. During the first 100 days of his reign, the new president was able to prove his legitimacy as the country's leader, as well as to identify solutions to complex problems in the country. Favorable trends are also observed in the neighboring countries of the DR Congo; South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

For several months, there has been a favorable trend in this African sub region. President Tshisekedi symbolizes these positive changes. Let us examine the success of the new president of the DRC Congo in details.

Historic elections in Congo DRC

Felix Tshisekedi became the first opposition candidate to win elections and gain power by peaceful means in DRC since the country gained independence. Tshisekedi is the leader of the UDPS (Union for Democracy and Social Progress), the oldest and largest opposition party in the country. Former President of the DRC, Joseph Kabila, had been in office since 2001 and did not have the right to run for a third term. His official successor was former Interior Minister Emmanuel Shadhari.

According to CENI, Tshisekedi received 38.57% of the vote, Martin Faulu – 34.83%, Emmanuel Shadari – 23.84%. The turnout was 47.56%. The Constitutional Court of the DRC approved the results of the presidential elections, and on January 24, 2019 Tshisekedi officially took office as president.

Since his inauguration, President Tshisekedi has made great efforts to ensure national reconciliation, to achieve political and social harmony in the country.

Restoring relations with Belgium

In 2017, relations between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Belgium deteriorated sharply, because Belgium criticized the opposition by the government of Joseph Kabila.

In protest, Kinshasa announced in April 2017 the termination of military cooperation with Brussels. And in January 2018, DRC announced the closure of the Schengen House, a kind of European consulate under the administration of Brussels, the termination of the activities of the Belgian development agency Enabel in the Congo, as well as a reduction in the frequency of Brussels Airlines flights between the two countries.

In response, Brussels recalled its ambassador. Today, specific commitments have been made between the two countries to open the Belgian Consulate General in DRC and the resumption of bilateral cooperation by the executive agency Enabel, the statement of the Belgian embassy said.

 

Historically for Congolese, Europe begins with Belgium. The Schengen House in Kinshasa actually performs its work thanks to the Belgian embassy. The Belgian Embassy also represents the interests of the Netherlands and Luxembourg. In addition, employees of the Belgian embassy run the Schengen House, which is responsible for issuing visas to Congolese for less than three months for eighteen EU countries, including France, Italy or Germany. It is difficult for Congolese to get to Europe without passing through Belgium.

It was Belgium’s pressure on Joseph Kabila and his inner circle; after he refused to leave the presidency from December 2016 and hold elections, that led to the peaceful process of the transfer of power and the presidential election in December 2018.

Return of the opposition

One of the most striking steps of Felix Tshisekedi was the release of political prisoners and the closure of the prison, which contained those who were dissatisfied with the former authorities. Thanks to the guarantees of the new president and the ongoing negotiation process, opposition leaders began to return to the country.

Among them is a fierce opponent of the reign of Joseph Kabila since 2012, a former military commander Antipas Mbus Nyamwisi, who announced his return to DRC until June 30, 2019. He was a member of the rebel movements that fought against the Kabila government. Nyamwisi is a former foreign minister, and is currently one of the leaders of the opposition platform Lamuka (the main opposition force in the country). He also hails from the Beni Butembo region, where the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic continues. He wants to come back to fight the Ebola epidemic. Antip Mbusa Nyamwisi currently lives in Brussels, Belgium. He also confirms that he received the “guarantee of sovereign power,” President Felix Tshisekedi, that he would not be arrested upon return to the country.

Another highlight was the return to the country of a major businessman and oppositionist Sindika Dokolo. He was forced to leave the country in 2014. Sindika Dokolo met many times with President Felix Tshisekedi. According to his own statement, he is ready to participate in the changes in the country as an entrepreneur, but not a politician.

On May 20, 2019, in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), he returned three years after his stay in Belgium, Moise Katumbi. He always blamed former president Joseph Kabila for fabricating several cases against him to prevent him from running for president. Moses is the coordinator of the opposition platform Lamuka. After returning to the DRC of the Congo, the oppositionist went to the fact that he refused to support the claim for the presidency of the main challenger from the opposition, Martin Fioulu (he still calls himself an elected president, demanding the resignation of Felix Tshisekedi).

“The Constitutional Court declared Mr. Felix Tshisekedi the President of the Republic. I am a pragmatic person; I would not like to engage in debates that can bring evil to our country. Therefore, the most important thing for us is the future of the Congolese people. ” Said Moses Katumbi.

Felix Tshisekedi’s program

On March 2, 2019, Felix Tshisekedi overcame the milestone of 100 days at the head of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Many of the provisions of the program for the first 100 days of his tenure as head of the DRC have already been implemented. Peace and security, roads, health, agriculture, and an ambitious plan that involves a thaw at the political level. First of all, the release of political prisoners and the return of compatriots who left the country for political reasons.

Among the economic successes of Tshisekedi, it is possible to single out the restoration of relations with the IMF. Since 2015, the DRC government broke off all relations with the mission of the International Monetary Fund. During the visit of Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi to Washington, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde welcomed the new changes in the DRC Congo. “I am very glad that we were able to resume relations and return to partnership in order to improve the economic situation and the situation of the population,” she told media.

To discuss possible assistance to the DRC Congo economy, an IMF audit mission is necessary. The Congo Government has already agreed to accept a mission to conduct an economic review in May. “We will come with the team and determine where the economy is, determine the problems … Then we can decide whether we can start discussing the financial program,” explained Philippe Egume, a representative of the International Monetary Fund.

Tshisekedi had a difficult mission; to bring the country out of political and economic crises, to maintain stable relations with the former ruling FCC party (it retains power in the regions and has a majority in Parliament), and also to convince Western partners of their own political independence and predictability. A particularly delicate issue is the return of opposition leaders, and their involvement in the overall process of restoring peace and prosperity in the Congo.

So far he has succeeded.

Article from AFRIC editorial.

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