Félix Tshisekedi

Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo[1] (French: [feliks ɑ̃twan tʃisekedi tʃilombo]; 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 DRC's oldest and largest party,[4] succeeding his late father Étienne Tshisekedi in that role, a three-time Prime Minister of Zaire and opposition leader during the reign of Mobutu Sese Seko. Tshisekedi was the UDPS party's candidate for president in the December 2018 general election, which he won, despite accusations of irregularities from several election monitoring organisations and other opposition parties. The Constitutional Court of the DRC upheld his victory after another opposition politician, Martin Fayulu, challenged the result, but Tshisekedi has been accused of making a deal with his predecessor, Joseph Kabila. The election marked the first peaceful transition of power since the state became independent from Belgium in 1960.

Félix Tshisekedi
Tshisekedi (46615782065) (cropped).jpg
Tshisekedi in 2019
5th President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Assumed office
24 January 2019
Prime MinisterBruno Tshibala
Sylvestre Ilunga
Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde
Preceded byJoseph Kabila
Leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress
Assumed office
31 March 2018
Preceded byÉtienne Tshisekedi
19th Chairperson of the African Union
Assumed office
6 February 2021
Preceded byCyril Ramaphosa
Personal details
Born (1963-06-13) 13 June 1963 (age 58)
Léopoldville, Congo-Léopoldville (now Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo)
Political partyUnion for Democracy and Social Progress
Spouse(s)Denise Nyakéru Tshisekedi
Parent(s)Étienne Tshisekedi
Marthe Kasalu Jibikila
Websitehttps://presidence.cd

Since the Common Front for Congo (FCC) coalition, which is aligned with Kabila, still controlled the parliament and provincial governorships, Tshisekedi's ability to govern or even appoint a new Prime Minister was limited for the first six months of his term. He named his coalition partner and political heavyweight, Vital Kamerhe, as his Chief of Cabinet, at first having designated him prime minister but not having the parliamentary support to get him appointed.[5] In May 2019 he arrived at a deal with the parliament's Kabila-aligned majority to appoint Sylvestre Ilunga prime minister.[6] On 27 July 2019, negotiations finally ended between Tshisekedi and the parliament, agreeing on the formation of a new cabinet.[7]

Early life and educationEdit

Tshisekedi, a member of the Luba ethnic group, was born in Kinshasa on 13 June 1963 to mother Marthe and father Étienne Tshisekedi, who served as Prime Minister of Zaire in the 1990s.[8] He had a comfortable life as a youth in the capital, but when his father created the UDPS in the early 1980s, publicly opposing Mobutu, Félix was forced to accompany him into house arrest in his native village in central Kasaï. This put his studies on hold. In 1985, Mobutu allowed 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 member.[2]

Political careerEdit

In late 2008, Tshisekedi was named the UDPS National Secretary for external relations.[9] 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".[9]

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[10] as CENI's article 17 excludes membership for those who are members of a political formation.[9]

In October 2016, Tshisekedi became vice secretary general of the UDPS.[9] On 31 March 2018, he was elected to lead the UDPS, after his father's death on 1 February 2017.[11] The same day, the UDPS nominated him for president in the December 2018 general election.[1]

On 10 January 2019, it was announced that Tshisekedi had won the presidency of the DRC in the December 2018 election.[12] He defeated another opposition leader, Martin Fayulu, and Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, who was supported by term-limited outgoing President Kabila, who had been president for 18 years. Fayulu, the runner-up, alleged rigging and challenged the election results.[13] On 19 January, the Constitutional Court, dismissed the challenge, officially making Tshisekedi president-elect.[14] He was sworn in as president on 24 January 2019,[15] taking office the next day.[3] This marked the first time since the Congo gained independence in 1960 that an incumbent president peacefully transferred power to the opposition.

On 20 January, South Africa congratulated Tshisekedi on his election 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, and this decision followed his promise to allow the return of exiles given the week before.[19]

 
Félix Tshisekedi with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, April 2019

In early 2019, negotiations were underway between Tshisekedi and Kabila's FCC coalition that controlled the National Assembly and Senate. In late April, Jeune Afrique reported that Kabila proposed to Tshisekedi 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 Tshisekedi the appointment of his chief of staff Vital Kamerhe as prime minister.[22] For months, Tshisekedi continued working with ministers of Kabila's government as he was hamstrung by parliament. He faced challenges in dealing with the Kivu conflict as well as the Ebola outbreak in the region.[23] In early March, Tshisekedi 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, Tshisekedi reached a deal with the FCC coalition and Kabila, appointing the career civil servant Sylvestre Ilunga as prime minister. Ilunga began his political career in the 1970s and held a number of cabinet posts under Mobutu Sese Seko before his overthrow in 1997. He is also an ally of Kabila.[26][27][28] In late July 2019, Tshisekedi reached a deal with parliament on forming a new government. Ilunga's new cabinet would include 65 members, 48 ministers and 17 vice-ministers, which should be divided between the Kabila-aligned FCC and Tshisekedi's CACH alliance. The majority of the ministries went to the FCC, including three of the six most important ones (Defence, Justice, and Finance), while the Foreign Affairs, Interior, and Budget portfolios went to Tshisekedi's allies.[29]

 
Tshisekedi and U.S. President Joe Biden at the 2021 G20 Rome summit, October 2021

After a power struggle saw the coalition with allies of Tshisekedi's predecessor break down and many legislators were won over, Ilunga was forced to leave office and Tshisekedi appointed Gécamines leader Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde as successor on 15 February 2021.[30]

On 12 April 2021, Tshisekedi formally ended his two-year coalition with Kabila and his allies when prime minister Sama Lukonde formed a new government. On national television, Tshisekedi’s spokesman Kasongo Mwema Yamba Yamba announced a number of new appointments, including Antoinette N’Samba Kalambayi as mines minister.[31] The president succeeded to oust the last remaining elements of his government who were loyal to Kabila.[32]

Tshisekedi promised to end and reverse deforestation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by 2030, in the COP26 climate summit's first major agreement.[33]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  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. ^ a b "RDC : Félix Tshisekedi s'installe dans le bureau présidentiel". JeuneAfrique.com (in French). 25 January 2019. 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". Africanews. 29 January 2019. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  6. ^ Experienced technocrat to head government of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Deutsche Welle, 21 May 2019
  7. ^ DR Congo rivals forge government pact 7 months after polls. News24, 27 July 2019
  8. ^ Williame, Jean-Claude; et al. (1997). Zaire: Predicament and Prospects. DIANE Publishing. p. 3. ISBN 0-7881-7042-2.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ " Je ne tiens pas à mettre ma carrière politique entre parenthèses "
  11. ^ "Tshisekedi's son leads DRC's main opposition party". The Herald. 2 April 2018. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  12. ^ "Opposition named winner in DR Congo poll". BBC News. 10 January 2019. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  13. ^ Gonzales, Richard; Schwartz, Matthew S. "Surprise Winner of Congolese Election Is An Opposition Leader". NPR. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  14. ^ Bujakera, Stanys (19 January 2019). "Congo top court declares Tshisekedi winner of presidential poll". Reuters. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  15. ^ "REFILE-Opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi sworn in as Congo president". 24 January 2019. Archived from the original on 25 January 2019 – via af.reuters.com.
  16. ^ "SA urges 'all parties' to accept Tshisekedi's DRC win". News24. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  17. ^ Steinhauser, Gabriele; Norman, Laurence (24 January 2019). "Félix Tshisekedi Is Sworn In as Congolese President". The Wall Street Journal.
  18. ^ Boko, Hermann (24 January 2019). "DR Congo: Tshisekedi takes office, but Kabila's legacy casts long shadow". France 24.
  19. ^ Gonzales, Richard. "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 (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 (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. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  28. ^ DR Congo's Tshisekedi names new prime minister. France24, 20 May 2019
  29. ^ Congo president and predecessor agree on division of cabinet posts. Reuters, 26 July 2019
  30. ^ "DR Congo names Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde new prime minister after power struggle". News24. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  31. ^ "Two Years After Vote, Congo's President Gets His Own Government". Bloomberg.com. 12 April 2021. Retrieved 28 April 2021.
  32. ^ "Felix Tshisekedi's Newly-Independent Agenda for the DRC: Modernizer or Strongman 2.0?". 26 May 2021.
  33. ^ "COP26 summit: DRC president pledges to fight deforestation of the Congo basin". Africanews. 2 November 2021.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
2019–present
Incumbent