Félix Tshisekedi

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Félix Tshisekedi
Félix Tshisekedi - 2019 (cropped).jpg
Félix Tshisekedi in 2019
5th President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Assumed office
25 January 2019
Prime MinisterBruno Tshibala
Sylvestre Ilunga
Preceded byJoseph Kabila
Leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress
Assumed office
31 March 2018
Preceded byÉtienne Tshisekedi
Personal details
Born
Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo

(1963-06-13) 13 June 1963 (age 56)
Léopoldville, Congo-Léopoldville (now Kinshasa, DR Congo)
Political partyUnion for Democracy and Social Progress
Spouse(s)Denise Nyakéru Tshisekedi
ParentsÉtienne Tshisekedi
(father)
Marthe Kasalu Jibikila
(mother)

Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo[1] (French: [feliks ɑ̃twan tʃizək(ə)di tʃilɔ̃bo]; born 13 June 1963)[2] is a Congolese politician who has been the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 25 January 2019.[3] He is the leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), the oldest and largest party of the Democratic Republic of Congo.[4] He is also the son of late Étienne Tshisekedi, a three-time Prime Minister of Zaire and opposition leader. Tshisekedi was the UDPS party's candidate for president in the December 2018 general election, which he won, despite accusations of irregularities from European and Catholic Church election monitoring organizations. His victory was upheld by the Constitutional Court of the DRC after another opposition politician, Martin Fayulu, challenged the result.

He has named his coalition partner and political heavyweight, Vital Kamerhe, as his Chief of Cabinet.[5] In May 2019 he arrived at a deal with the parliament's Kabila-aligned majority, the Common Front for Congo coalition, to appoint Sylvestre Ilunga as the new Prime Minister.[6]

Early life and education

Tshisekedi was born in Léopoldville on 13 June 1963 to mother Marthe and father Étienne Tshisekedi, who served as Prime Minister of Zaire in the 1990s.[7] Félix Tshisekedi had a comfortable life as a youth in the capital. However, when his father created the UDPS in the early 1980's, publicly opposing Mobutu, Félix was forced to accompany his dissident father into house arrest in his native village in central Kasaï. This led to him putting his studies on hold. In 1985, Mobutu authorised him, his mother, and his brothers to leave Kasaï. He went on to live in Brussels, Belgium, where he worked at odd jobs and became an active UDPS militant.[2]

Political career

In late 2008, Tshisekedi was named as the UDPS National Secretary for external relations.[8] In November 2011, he obtained a seat in the National Assembly, representing the city of Mbuji Mayi in Kasai-Oriental province. He did not take his seat citing a fraudulent election[citation needed] and his mandate was invalidated for "absenteeism".[8]

In May 2013, he refused a position of rapporteur at the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), saying that he did not want to put his political career on hold[9] as CENI's article 17 excludes membership for those who are members of a political formation.[8]

In October 2016, Tshisekedi became vice secretary general of the UDPS.[8] On 31 March 2018, he was elected to lead the UDPS, after his father's death on 1 February 2017.[10] The very same day, he was chosen by his party to be the UDPS presidential candidate in the general election that took place on 30 December 2018.[1]

On 10 January 2019, it was announced Tshisekedi had been elected President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the elections held on 30 December 2018.[11] He defeated another opposition leader, Martin Fayulu, and Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, who was supported by term-limited outgoing president Joseph Kabila who has been president for eighteen years. Fayulu, the runner-up, alleged rigging and challenged the election results.[12] On 19 January, the challenge was dismissed by the Constitutional Court, officially making Tshisekedi president-elect.[13] He was officially sworn in as President on 24 January 2019,[14] taking office the next day.[15] This marked the first time since the Congo gained independence in 1965 that an incumbent president peacefully transferred power to the opposition.

South Africa, on 20 January congratulated Felix Tshisekedi on becoming president of DR Congo despite the African Union and EU warning of doubts over the result announced by the Constitutional Court.[16] After Tshisekedi was sworn in, it was reported that a member of Kabila's coalition would be picked to serve as his Prime Minister.[17][18]

On 13 March 2019, Tshisekedi signed a decree to pardon approximately 700 prisoners, including imprisoned political opponents of Kabila.[19]

In the early months of 2019 negotiations were underway between Tshisekedi and the FCC coalition that controls the National Assembly and Senate, which is controlled by former president Kabila. In late April, Jeune Afrique reported that Kabila proposed to the President the mining company executive Albert Yuma as a candidate for Prime Minister. Yuma supports the new Mining Code adopted in 2018, which put the DRC in dispute with international mining companies, and Tshisekedi has been under foreign pressure to not appoint him.[20][21] The Civil Society of South Kivu recommended to the President the appointment of his chief of staff Vital Kamerhe as Prime Minister.[22] For those months Tshisekedi continued working with ministers of the former President Kabila's government as he has been hamstrung by parliament. He has faced challenges in dealing with the Kivu conflict as well as the Ebola outbreak in the region.[23] In early March, the President started a program to improve infrastructure, transport, education, housing, communication, health, water, and agriculture.[24]

Most of the provincial governorships were also won by Kabila-affiliated candidates.[25]

On 20 May 2019, he reached a deal with the FCC coalition and Joseph Kabila, appointing the career civil servant Sylvestre Ilunga as prime minister. Ilunga began his political career in the 1970s and had held a number of cabinet posts under the regime of former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko before his overthrow in 1997. Ilunga is also an ally of Kabila.[26][27][28]

References

  1. ^ a b "Félix Tshisekedi investi candidat du parti historique d'opposition UDPS en RDC" (in French). Voice of America. 31 March 2018. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b Boisselet, Pierre (15 June 2017). "RDC : Félix Tshisekedi, au nom du père". Jeune Afrique (in French). Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  3. ^ "RDC : Félix Tshisekedi s'installe dans le bureau présidentiel". JeuneAfrique.com (in French). Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  4. ^ Clowes, William (25 May 2018). "Congo Opposition Leaders Mull Unity Candidate for Delayed Vote". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  5. ^ "DRC president Tshisekedi names coalition ally as Chief of Staff". Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  6. ^ Experienced technocrat to head government of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Deutsche Welle, 21 May 2019
  7. ^ Williame, Jean-Claude; et al. (1997). Zaire: Predicament and Prospects. DIANE Publishing. p. 3. ISBN 0-7881-7042-2.
  8. ^ a b c d "Félix Tshisekedi Premier ministre à la place de Samy Badibanga?". Politico.cd (in French). 23 December 2016. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  9. ^ " Je ne tiens pas à mettre ma carrière politique entre parenthèses "
  10. ^ "Tshisekedi's son leads DRC's main opposition party". The Herald. 2 April 2018. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  11. ^ "Opposition named winner in DR Congo poll". BBC News. 10 January 2019. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  12. ^ "Surprise Winner of Congolese Election Is An Opposition Leader". NPR. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  13. ^ Bujakera, Stanys (19 January 2019). "Congo top court declares Tshisekedi winner of presidential poll". Reuters. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  14. ^ "REFILE-Opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi sworn in as Congo president". 24 January 2019 – via af.reuters.com.
  15. ^ "RDC : Félix Tshisekedi s'installe dans le bureau présidentiel". JeuneAfrique.com (in French). Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  16. ^ "SA urges 'all parties' to accept Tshisekedi's DRC win". Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  17. ^ Steinhauser, Gabriele; Norman, Laurence (24 January 2019). "Félix Tshisekedi Is Sworn In as Congolese President" – via www.wsj.com.
  18. ^ "DR Congo: Tshisekedi takes office, but Kabila's legacy casts long shadow". France 24. 24 January 2019.
  19. ^ "New Congolese President Pardons About 700 Political Prisoners". NPR.org. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  20. ^ Bujakera Tshiamala, Stanis (23 April 2019). RDC : Joseph Kabila renonce à imposer Albert Yuma à la primature ‹See Tfd›(in French). Jeune Afrique.
  21. ^ Congo president turned down predecessor's PM pick: source. The East African. Published 9 April 2019.
  22. ^ Sud-Kivu : la société civile appelle Félix Tshisekedi à nommer Vital Kamerhe Premier ministre ‹See Tfd›(in French). MediaCongo.net. Published 23 April 2019.
  23. ^ Security issues dominate Tshisekedi's first tour of DR Congo. The East African. Published 23 April 2019.
  24. ^ DRC's Felix Tshisekedi still a president without a cabinet. Deutsche Welle, 3 May 2019
  25. ^ Tshisekedi seeks to assert authority over pro-Kabila governors. Channel News Asia, 13 May 2019
  26. ^ New DRC Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga is a political and professor. Radio France International, 21 May 2019
  27. ^ DR Congo PM appointed under 'political agreement' with Kabila. Yahoo News, 20 May 2019
  28. ^ DR Congo's Tshisekedi names new prime minister. France24, 20 May 2019
Political offices
Preceded by
Joseph Kabila
President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
2019–present
Incumbent