President Tshisekedi’s Swearing-In: A Defining Moment for Kinshasa and the Region

Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is gearing up for a significant political event this Saturday January 20, 2024, marked by the swearing-in ceremony of the elected President, Felix Tshisekedi. Serge Tshibangu, a senior representative of the Congolese president, announced that the ceremony will feature the attendance of eighteen heads of state, two vice-presidents, and four former heads of state. This announcement came during a press conference at the Martyrs’ Stadium.

Tshibangu noted that the majority of the confirmed leaders are from African countries. He also mentioned that Joseph Kabila, Tshisekedi’s predecessor and a lifetime senator, has been invited for the second time. Their relationship has been strained since the power transition five years ago, with notable differences on various political issues. However, Kabila, known for his media reticence, has not confirmed his attendance, fueling speculation about his potential absence.

The Congolese press agency ACP released a list of twenty-two invited heads of state, including figures like Evariste Ndahishimiye of Burundi, Brice Oligui of Gabon, Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, among others. The office of the Burundian president confirmed the participation of Ndayishimiye and his wife. Notably, Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni are not on the list, perhaps reflecting ongoing regional tensions.

On the sidelines of the official ceremony, demonstrations are planned by opponents of Tshisekedi. Moïse Katumbi, Martin Fayulu, and Anzuluni Bembe, who respectively garnered 18%, 4.9%, and 0.8% of the votes, have called for protests against what they consider to be fraud-tainted elections. Government spokesperson Patrick Muyaya assured that adequate security measures are in place, while warning Kinshasa residents not to panic during the traditional 21-gun salute marking the president’s inauguration.