The White House has recently announced President JoevBiden’s decision to send a Presidential Delegation to the Democratic Republic of the Congo for the inauguration of Félix Tshisekedi, scheduled for January 20, 2024, in Kinshasa. This move is indicative of the ongoing diplomatic engagement between the United States and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The delegation will be led by Scott Nathan, who is the Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation. Joining him are several prominent figures, including Lucy Tamlyn, the United States Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Mary Catherine Phee, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs at the U.S. Department of State; Monde Muyangwa, Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for Africa, U.S. Agency for International Development; and Chidi Blyden, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
The selection of this delegation reflects the current administration’s approach to international relations, particularly with the African continent. This event also comes at a time when the U.S. administration has shifted its stance in the ongoing conflict in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the M23 movement, supported by neighboring Rwanda, has been in conflict with Kinshasa’s government forces.
Historically, the U.S. has been a strong supporter of Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s regime. However, various allegations have been made against Kagame’s administration, including human rights violations, suppression of free speech, and involvement in the assassination of opposition figures, journalists, and human rights activists. Despite these allegations, the U.S. continued its support, even amidst claims of Rwandan military’s involvement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo through the creation and support of rebel movements.
The Biden administration’s engagement with President Tshisekedi signifies a notable shift in U.S. foreign policy towards the region. This is evident in the changing dynamics between Washington and Kigali, especially considering the alleged attempts by the Rwandan government to undermine Tshisekedi’s re-election. These claims have been widely discussed in pro-Kagame media outlets and on social media platforms.
The inauguration event and the U.S. delegation’s presence are anticipated to be pivotal in shaping future relations between the United States, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the broader regional dynamics in Central Africa.