President's inauguration in DRC may be postponed
Swearing-in ceremony is likely to be held on Thursday
Kinshasa — The swearing-in ceremony of newly elected Democratic Repulic of Congo president Felix Tshisekedi, may be postponed for two days until Thursday, a source in his coalition says.
“According to information I was given, it has been put off until Thursday,” Lydie Omanga, spokesperson for the opposition coalition which backed Tshisekedi in the race to succeed outgoing President Joseph Kabila, said on Monday.
Kabila’s deputy head of cabinet, Jean-Pierre Kambila, said
"if the ceremony does not take place tomorrow, it will be on January 24, without doubt".
Sources close to the president-elect said on Monday that aspects of the ceremony remained decided and invitations were still to be sent to foreign heads of state and government.
The timetable of the national electoral commission, which oversaw the long-delayed elections across the vast country, provided for the new head of state to be sworn in on Tuesday.
Tshisekedi’s announced victory was legally challenged by runner-up Martin Fayulu, who called the outcome “an electoral coup”, an alleged stitch-up between Kabila and Tshisekedi. Leaked figures from the provisional vote count appear to point heavily in his favour. But the Constitutional Court on Sunday dismissed his appeal.
Kabila came to power in 2001 while war raged in the vast and mineral-rich country. He extended his term by two years from 2016, unleashing protests that the security forces bloodily repressed.
Tshisekedi, 55, is the son of veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, who died in February 2017, aged 84.
African countries that had expressed reservations about the provisional results of the election have begun to acknowledge Tshisekedi as the next president. The African Union, which previously said it had “serious doubts” about the figures, said on Sunday it had “taken note” of the court ruling. It also said it was postponing sending a high-level delegation to Kinshasa on Monday to try to ease the dispute.
But the Roman Catholic Church, which says it deployed 40,000 observers to monitor the poll, has dismissed the official outcome.
The election would mark the first peaceful transfer of power from one president to another in Democratic Republic of Congo since independence from Belgium in 1960.
The vast country suffered two regional wars in 1996-97 and 1998-2003, and the last two presidential elections, in 2006 and 2011, were marred by bloody clashes.