Tshisekedi supporter: We've no other leader, like Tshitshi

2017-02-02 14:00
Etienne Tshisekedi (File: AFP)

Etienne Tshisekedi (File: AFP)

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

Kinshasa - Longtime Democratic Republic of Congo opposition chief Etienne Tshisekedi died on Wednesday at the age of 84 in Brussels, as talks aiming to end the nation's political crisis were under way in Kinshasa.

"President Tshisekedi died today... in Brussels," Bruno Tshibala, an official from his Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party, said of the burly figure who had remained largely out of sight in recent years due to frail health.

Tshisekedi, who had only flown from Kinshasa to the capital of former colonial power Belgium on January 24, for medical treatment, died at 17:42 , Tshibala said.

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

The opposition coalition he headed is negotiating the next steps in a power-sharing deal agreed on New Year's Eve to avoid fresh violence after President Joseph Kabila refused to step down at the end of his mandate in December.

Tshisekedi's death swiftly brought the country's tensions to the fore in Kinshasa as police fired tear gas on a crowd of his supporters who had gathered to mourn.

About 100 supporters were out in the open when security forces moved in, and dozens took refuge inside his party's headquarters to escape the gas, an AFP journalist said.

Eventually those inside were forced to leave after a police officer threatened to open fire at them.

'Our leader is dead' 

The Tshisekedi supporters were struggling to take in the news their chief was gone.

"Our leader is dead. We have no other leader, like Tshitshi, who can fight without the need for guns. How could he die in Belgium?" asked UDPS activist, Yves, using Tshisekedi's nickname.

The power-sharing deal, brokered by the country's influential Roman Catholic bishops, allows Kabila to stay in office until late 2017 in tandem with a transitional body and a new premier, yet to be agreed.

Before his death, the UDPS said Tshisekedi would return to DRC soon to "take up his historic responsibilities" but there had been great concern for "the Old Man", as he was affectionately known

Voters in DR Congo were originally to have chosen a new president in 2016, but the authorities said the electoral registers must be revised, a huge enterprise in a country almost the size of western Europe.

And in a highly controversial ruling, the constitutional court said Kabila could remain in office until an election was held.

The ruling fed opposition fears that he planned to amend the constitution to allow him to run for a third term.

Kabila, 45, has been in power, in one of the least developed countries in the world, since the 2001 assassination of his father Laurent at the height of the Second DRC War.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders described Tshisekedi as a "remarkable political figure".

His "last fight (...) for the constitution and democracy culminated in the New Year's Eve agreement," Reynders said in a statement, adding that "Belgium joins forces with the Congolese people in their grief and their desire to see his work bear fruit".

Read more on:    joseph 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

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

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.