The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi has been sworn in for a second five-year term at Kinshasa’s 80,000-capacity Martyrs sports stadium, following highly contested elections in December.
The event drew thousands of Congolese citizens and saw the presence of several African heads of state and foreign envoys. The stands were packed well before midday, with singing and dancing in full flow awaiting the arrival of traditional chiefs from the country’s 26 provinces.
Tshisekedi was first sworn in as president in January 2019 after controversially defeating Joseph Kabila.
He won the first time, promising to improve living conditions in the DRC, which boasts mineral riches but has a largely impoverished population of 100 million, and put an end to 25 years of bloodshed in the east.
The Congolese president has not kept those promises, but this time around, he campaigned strongly on his first-term achievements, such as free primary medication, asking for another mandate to “consolidate” the progress.
The Congolese president made a landslide victory in the December 20 elections, winning more than 70 percent of the vote. The election had a turnout of more than 40 percent, with some 18 million people voting.
Even before the results were announced in late December, opposition candidates, including businessman Moise Katumbi, who finished behind Tshisekedi with 18 percent of the vote, said they rejected the results and called on the population to mobilize.
Despite legal challenges and the dismissal of a petition, the opposition figures have called for nationwide protests to contest the election results and demand a rerun. The government, in response, has warned of cracking down on these protests.
During his inaugural speech, President Tshisekedi pledged to unite the country and put an end to the armed conflicts that have displaced millions in the eastern DRC.
The 60-year-old leader, who secured victory with 73 percent of the votes, according to the electoral commission, promised to build a strong, united, and prosperous nation during his second term.
As President Tshisekedi embarks on his second term, he faces a nation grappling with internal divisions, economic challenges, and heightened insecurity in the east. The next few years will test the president’s ability to navigate a fractured political landscape and deliver on his promises for a better and more stable Congo.