February 2019

DRC President Felix Tshisekedi visited Kenya on February 6, 2019. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta reiterated his government’s support for the DRC, offering on Wednesday to train DRC’s civil servants. Kenyatta further pledged to keep promoting peace and stability in the DRC after a contested election saw Tshisekedi emerge instead of another opposition candidate, Martin Fayulu. Fayulu dismissed the victory as an electoral coup doctored by outgoing president, Joseph Kabila. Leaked documents had shown that Fayulu would have won by a significant margin. The Constitutional Court, however, uphold the results. In response, the United States followed through on its threat to penalise individuals that undermined the electoral process. On February 23, 2019, the United States said it would reject any visa request from five senior Congolese figures, as well as their immediate family members over “involvement in significant corruption relating to the election process.”

Rumours of Tshisekedi partnering up with Kabila have further increased this month, when the former announced that ex-ministers would receive life-time salaries and a USD 1,000 monthly housing allowance. Additionally, Tshisekedi reached out to Kabila and his supporters on February 6, 2019, asking to work together. He needs Kabila’s supporters, who still controls parliament, to enforce any meaningful rule. This has become painfully clear lately, when Kabila formed the Common Front for the Congo, and made its members swear allegiance to him. In the last week of February 2019, the Common Front for the Congo announced that it will form a government, leaving observers to wonder to what extent Tshisekedi is actually in control.

Earlier, however, on February 4, 2019, Tshisekedi announced that Francois Beya Kasonga was appointed national security advisor. Kasonga has been working for the Congolese government for years and is a seasoned politician. He is widely seen as a moderate, and there are some hopes that his entrance into the security sector might transform the sector in a positive sense. To this extent, Virunga National Park reopened on February 18, 2019, after an attack there left two Britons kidnapped and one guard killed. Thus, there are some hopes for the DRC, but recent political developments suggest that Kabila is leading from the shadows. He has already said that he might try to run in 2023, and recent development support this.

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