Tension escalating in DRC ahead of Tshisekedi’s inauguration

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Tension has escalated in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Felix Tshisekedi. Opposition parties and presidential candidates have rejected the results, saying elections were a sham.

It was supposed to be a new era in the DRC. However some of the country’s leaders have described the recently concluded elections as lacking credibility.

Ahead of the inauguration on Saturday, questions are being asked about the future of DRC and the prospects for peace in the Great Lakes region.

A Professor in African politics at the University of South Africa (UNISA) Kealeboga Maphunye says the credibility of the DRC elections is questionable.

“If you can’t have elections in a big part of the country such as Goma and those areas, my view is that to what extent then the electoral outcome will be legitimate when a portion of the country did not have elections.”

During campaigning in Kinshasa last year ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections in December, Tshisekedi threatened to declare war on neighbouring Rwanda, accusing it of backing the M23 rebel group with resources to destabilise the DRC.

Dr Webster Zambara of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, says people in the DRC need peace.

“Implementation and renewal of commitments to existing and new peace agreements in the DRC, there are many agreements that have been signed and most of the important ones actually were signed here. The global inclusive agreement on transition in the DRC which was signed in December 2002 here in Pretoria which has got a provision of truth and reconciliation commission.”

The United Nations Peacekeeping Mission is expected to pull out of the DRC by April. The DRC government has also ended the contract of East African Community troops that were deployed in the eastern part of the country to bring peace and stability.

Dr Zambara says the continent is at war with itself.

“Just last week Kenya and Tanzania were in a tit-for-tat of banning their flights. Uganda and Kenya are attacking each other. Rwanda and Burundi are closing each other’s borders. Rwanda and DRC have declared each other’s war.  South Sudan is at war with itself. So, the east African community, which is closest to the DRC is under some seriousness tension.”

SADC has since deployed troops in the DRC and the M23 rebels have resumed fighting in the eastern part of the DRC.