DR Congo’s president sworn in for second term after disputed election

‘We want a more united, stronger and prosperous Congo,’ says Felix Tshisekedi during inauguration ceremony

Felix Tshisekedi has been sworn in as President of DR Congo following a disputed December election, promising to unite the central African country during his second five-year term and to protect lives in the conflict-hit eastern region.

“I am taking back the baton of command that you entrusted to me. We want a more united, stronger and prosperous Congo,” Mr Tshikedi, 60, said during the inauguration ceremony attended by several heads of state.

His first inauguration in 2019 marked Congo’s first democratic transfer of power since the country’s independence from Belgium in 1960.

Mr Tshisekedi won re-election with more than 70 per cent of the vote, according to the election commission.


However, opposition candidates and their supporters questioned the validity of the election, which was mired in logistical problems.

Many polling stations were late in opening or did not open at all while some lacked materials.

Voter turnout was 40 per cent, the election commission said.

Congo’s constitutional court earlier this month rejected a petition by an opposition candidate to annul the election.

The court ruled that malpractice allegations were unfounded and that Mr Tshisekedi secured “a majority of votes cast”.

Opposition candidates asked their supporters to protest against the president’s inauguration, though there were no signs of protests in the capital, Kinshasa, on Saturday.

DR Congo, a country of more than 100 million people, is blessed with sprawling mineral resources but economic and security challenges have stifled its development. One-in-four citizens faces crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity, according to UN statistics.

Eastern DR Congo continues to be ravaged by more than 120 armed groups seeking a share of resources such as gold and trying to protect their communities, some of them quietly backed by DR Congo’s neighbours. The violence, which has displaced nearly seven million people, has included mass killings.

Analysts say peace and stability in eastern DR Congo is one of the country’s most pressing needs. The UN peacekeeping mission in the country is ending after more than two decades. Troops from an East African regional force are also departing.

“We expect from President Felix Tshisekedi, during his second term, many changes, particularly in the east, where thousands of citizens are still dying, to improve the situation of people and the functions of the state, and above all to improve the wellbeing and better being of Congolese,” said Patrick Mbembe in the capital.

Mr Tshisekedi became president in 2019 after emerging from the shadow of his father, who was one of DR Congo’s most popular figures. The presidency eluded Etienne Tshisekedi but his death in 2017 helped catapult his son into the limelight.