Opposition leader Tshisekedi quits DRC for medical treatment

2017-01-24 12:00
Etienne Tshisekedi. (File: AFP)

Etienne Tshisekedi. (File: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Kinshasa - Congolese opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi headed on Tuesday to Belgium for medical treatment - just as his party is trying to negotiate a power-sharing deal following President Laurent Kabila's refusal to step down.

The 84-year-old head of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), a historic heavyweight in DRC's opposition movement, took off from Kinshasa's airport aboard a private plane at 06:00, an AFP journalist reported.

The departure of the frail leader could complicate negotiations over the timetable for a New Year's Eve deal under which Kabila will stay in office before new elections are held in late 2017.

The country's influential Catholic bishops brokered the deal in a bid to prevent more bloodshed in a crisis that has already claimed dozens of lives in the chronically unstable nation.

'He's not dying'

The UDPS, saying it wanted to put an end to "rumours", published a statement overnight saying its leader would be leaving for Brussels on Tuesday on a trip that had been "postponed several times because of the political situation in the country", without specifying the reason for his departure.

But a source close to the Tshisekedi family said he was going to Belgium for medical tests. "He's not dying, but he has to go for a test in Brussels," the source said.

A senior UDPS official expressed greater concern over the health of "the Old Man", as Tshisekedi is affectionately known among his political allies, saying the opposition leader's health had rapidly deteriorated.

"This could be a one-way trip, we can't rule that out," the party official said on condition of anonymity.

The UDPS statement said Tshisekedi would be returning to DRC as soon as possible to "take up his historic responsibilities".

Triumphant return

Tshisekedi had made a triumphant return in July after two years of medical treatment in former colonial power Belgium, with hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets to welcome him home.

Kabila, who has been in power since 2001, was due to step down on December 20 at the end of his second and final mandate, but has shown no signs of wanting to leave office.

Tshisekedi is supposed to head a transitional body that will be set up until the elections due at the end of the year, with a prime minister to be named from opposition ranks.

He had unsuccessfully fought the 2011 presidential election against Kabila, a vote which the opposition alleged was marked by massive fraud.

Read more on:    laurent kabila  |  etienne tshisekedi  |  drc  |  central africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Does your dog have separation anxiety?

We've got tips, advice and how to help your dog

 
 

Paws

Fascinating facts about dogs
Perfectly captured cat snapchats!
Out with the old dog, in with the new
Play with your pet when you're not at home
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.