Following an election fraught with logistical problems, Felix Tshisekedi was sworn in for a second term as president of the Democratic Republic of Congo. He vowed to make the DRC “more united, stronger and prosperous.”
“I am aware of your expectations,” Tshisekedi said in his inauguration speech, going on to mention unemployment, youth, women and national cohesion. “We want a more united, stronger and prosperous Congo.”
Opposition’s petitions failed at top court
Opposition candidates did not attend the swearing-in ceremony and questioned the legality of the vote. They called on supporters to take to the streets.
There was no indication of protests in Kinshasa, the DRC capital, where military police were deployed, and only small protests took place in Goma and Beni on Saturday.
Many of the polling stations in the December 20 election opened late, or not at all, and others lacked voting materials. The country’s election commission put voter turnout at 40%. Congo’s constitutional court rejected an opposition candidate’s petition to annul the election, saying Tshisekedi earned “a majority of votes cast.”
Population plagued by poverty, violence
Home to more than 100 million people, the DRC is rich in mineral resources, yet 25% of the population faces food insecurity and about 62% live on less than a dollar a day.
Analysts have said Tshisekedi’s main tasks will include restoring peace and stability in the country’s east. Violence there, where over 120 armed groups fight for power and a share of the country’s resources, has displaced nearly 7 million people.
A UN peacekeeping mission in DRC is ending after over 20 years, and troops from an East African regional force are also departing.
In his speech, Tshisekedi promised “a profound restructuring of our security and defense apparatus” and additional efforts to address the security crisis in the east.
Tshisekedi became president in 2019 after emerging from the shadow of his father, who was one of Congo’s most popular figures.
His first inauguration was Congo’s first democratic transfer of power since the country’s independence from Belgium in 1960.
sms/jcg (AP, Reuters, AFP)