The Democratic Republic of the Congo underwent its first peaceful transition of power in 60 years when its new president, Felix Tshisekedi, was sworn in on January 24th. The election result was highly controversial and there remains the possibility of unrest in the eastern part of the country where the defeated candidate, Martin Fayulu, remains popular.
The national election commission had given Tshisekedi 38.5 per cent of the vote and Fayulu 35 per cent after the December 30 vote. The result was upheld by the country’s constitutional court. However, Tshisekedi was backed by the outgoing president, Joseph Kabila, who remains influential with most agencies of government.
Fayulu claimed he won about 60 per cent of the vote, a stance supported by the Catholic Church and a few independent polling agencies.
The international community, including the African Union, was initially sceptical of the election results. They came out in support of the new president after the court ruling. This was partly fuelled by fears the Congo would slip back into a third civil war. The Catholic Church meanwhile brokered an understanding which would require Tshisekedi to release all political prisoners.
The new president begins his term under a cloud. Kabila’s party still controls 337 seats in the country’s national assembly. Kabila has assumed the post of “senator for life” from which he is expected to continue to exert considerable political control.
January 29, 2019