In December, DR Congo fell into shambles as the general population rampaged challenging the continued rule of President Joseph Kabila whose tenure had terminated. Despite the fact that the President may have at long last had his direction, considering that he still remains the President, a dead man, Etienne Tshisekedi, might be set to change all that.
Etienne Tshisekedi passed on February 1 this year at 84 years old. It has been just about 3 months since and his body keeps on grieving in a morgue home in Brussels. A fight is being pursued over when his body will be repatriated from Belgium to DR Congo.
While alive Etienne Tshisekedi was a Congolese opposition pioneer who in 1982 established the nation’s first opposition party and conflicted with the progressive Presidents; Mobutu Sese Seko, Laurent Kabila, and Joseph Kabila.
In 2011, he ran for President against Kabila and lost but the elections were widely viewed as flawed and Tshisekedi’s followers continued to regard him as the legitimate President.
After Kabila’s play to refrain from stepping down in 2016, Etienne Tshisekedi was instrumental in persuading the President to agree to a process that would allow elections to take place in 2017. Tshisekedi was then meant to head an oversight committee, “Rassemblement,” tasked with monitoring the carrying out of that agreement.
How Etienne Tshisekedi threatens President Joseph Kabila
The Union for Democracy and Social Progress want their veteran leader buried in a mausoleum at the party’s headquarters in Kinshasa. Authorities in DR Congo are, however, having none of that.
They refused the claims of the party by citing a colonial-era law that prohibits burial in residential areas over public health concerns. They even went as far as interrogating the mausoleum’s architect, and are instead proposing that Etienne Tshisekedi is interred in a cemetery like everyone else, and they want to control the funeral proceedings.
Congolese authorities fear that Tshisekedi’s funeral may become a mass demonstration against President Joseph Kabila. They also have to consider the fact that if Tshisekedi is buried in the capital, Kabila’s fiercest rival Moise Katumbi may do as he has vowed and return from his own political exile to attend the funeral.
Moise Katumbi will be sure to draw even more politically inclined mourners. In fact, the only hindrance to the opposition in these days is the fact that they have not found a clear leader to get behind.
Congo is still clinging to the hope that President Kabila will respect the New Year’s Eve agreement, which prevents him from seeking a third term or holding a referendum to change the constitution but if he does so, it will be a refreshing break from character. For the battle ahead, the people will need to find a living and present opposition leader that will knock horns with Kabila and win them the victory that they deserve.