Congo-Kinshasa: Who Will Lead the Democratic Republic of Congo?

After first doubting the election results in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the African Union now says "it is ready to work with President Tshisekedi." While the president-elect is being congratulated by African peers, some Congolese believe that his win is the result of a deal with outgoing President Kabila.

" There is a power deal between Felix Tshisekedi and Joseph Kabila," says Michael Tshibangu, political analyst and head of the Association for Development and Democracy in the Congo.

"[Based on the] information we have received [and] as part of this deal, the results were changed to make Felix president of DRC. In return Felix would protect Kabila and his interests, [while] allowing his [Kabila's] camp to play a key role by basically keeping control of the government and other institutions."

According to the results published by the Independent National Electoral Commission, out of the 485 newly elected members of parliament, 350 are members of the Common Front for the Congo coaltion (FCC, Front Commun pour le Congo) of Joseph Kabila.

The election of the remaining 15 MPs in Beni, Buembo and Yumi has been postponed for security reasons. Tshisekedi's coalition won less than 50 seats in Parliament.

"That's an absolute majority. He [Kabila] will have total control of the national assembly and the government," says Michael Tshibangu, "[His coalition] will also control the governors of the provinces.This is why people find it very suspicious that a party that has failed completely, according to the electoral commission, at the presidential elections managed to secure 350 MPs."

There is a power deal between Felix Tshisekedi and Joseph Kabila. As part of this deal, the results were changed to make Felix president of DRC. And in return Felix would protect Kabila and his interests.

Michael Tshibangu

For Tshibangu said that this constitutes another reason to subscribe to the theory of a power sharing deal between Kabila and Tshisekedi.

He belives this would give Kabila a key role in the new government while Tshisekedi becomes "a figurehead, somebody that will be in power but has no power."

Tshibangu doesn't believe that Kabila does not want the position of prime minister or any other post that puts him in the limelight. The outgoing president is a man who likes to operate in the shadows.

"He will choose somebody from his camp that he trusts. It is reported that it might be Albert Yuma, head of [the mining company] Gécamines," says Tshibangu.

African Union backpedalled

Last week, the African Union (AU) asked the the announcement of the final results of the elections be postponed because of "serious doubts" over the conduct of the election.

An African Union mission was meant to be in Kinshasa on Monday, January 21, led by AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat and AU chairperson, Rwanda's President Paul Kagame.

But on Sunday January 20th, the African Union announced that it will postpone the trip.

Earlier on the same Sunday, SADC congratulated Felix Tshisekedi for his win as did the Presidents of Burundi, Tanzania and South Africa.

Regional interests to be preserved

South Africa's Cyril Ramaphosa also called on all parties and stakeholders to respect the decision of the Constitutional Court.

"South Africa has economic interests in the DRC... that dictates their pro-Kabila position. They are also keen on the Inga dam project [on the Congo river] where they have committed to buy half of [of the 4,800 MW electricity] that will be produced. [South Africa wants] to protect the contracts already signed," explains Tshibangu.

Kikaya Bin Karubi, adviser to Joseph Kabila, travelled to Kigali to meet President Kagame over the weekend, before the AU postponed the visit to Kinshasa. Karubi was accompanied by Kabila's chief of staff, Néhémie Mwilanya Wilonja and the head of security, Kalev Mutond.

"It was not a mission to threaten him [President Kagame] but one to reassure him that Rwanda's interests, [namely] in eastern Congo will be safeguarded," declares Tshibangu.

A prudent EU, a willing AU

The European Foreign Affairs ministers in Brussels are being prudence in their declarations in respect of the presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Now that African leaders are congratulating Felix Tshisekedi on his win, Western powers do not want to appear meddlesome, interfering in African affairs. They "take note of the results" is the diplomatic language being used.

It was not a mission to threaten him but one to reassure him that Rwanda's interests in eastern Congo will be safeguarded

Michael Tshibangu

The Belgian Foreign Affairs Minister Didier Reynders earlier said that he would have preferred the electoral process to be more transparent and the verification of results to be more open.

On Tuesday January 22, following an AU/EU foreign affairs ministers meeting in Brussels, the African Union said that it was ready to work with President Tshisekedi."

The European Union, through its diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini, said that it has "taken note" of the officially-declared results. Mogherini referred to Tshisekedi as the "new president".

The EU said that it will send an official representative at the inauguration. Its ambassador was expelled from DRC last december, two days before the presidential elections.

Etienne Tshisekedi back in Kinshasa

Etienne Tshisekedi, the veteran Congolese opposition figure, passed away two years ago but his body is still in a funeral home in Brussels because the Congolese authorities refused his repatriation.

There is hope that the man who led the Congolese opposition for 40 years will finally be buried in Kinshasa now that his son is to be President of the county.

"Now that they are partners... Kabila no longer sees the return of Tshisekedi as a threat. Before, Kabila feared that it could lead to people rising up because the UDPS was against Kabila," says Michael Tshibangu.

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