Kinshasa, January 22, 2024 – In a significant diplomatic exchange, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken engaged in a virtual conversation with President Félix Tshisekedi Tshilombo of the Democratic Republic of Congo, following Tshisekedi’s swearing-in for his second term as President on January 20, 2024.
President Tshisekedi’s inauguration came after the Constitutional Court of the DRC affirmed the validity of his substantial 73.34% electoral victory, as certified by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI). This re-election marks a pivotal moment in the DRC’s political landscape.
Amidst a busy week with scheduled visits to countries including Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Angola, Secretary Blinken took the time to speak with President Tshisekedi on January 22. He extended his congratulations on the electoral triumph, a testament to Tshisekedi’s growing influence in regional politics.
Matthew Miller, Blinken’s spokesperson, revealed that the discussion also focused on concerns raised by observer missions regarding irregularities in the election process. Blinken emphasized the importance of addressing these issues to strengthen democratic trust, which has been subject to scrutiny.
“The Secretary urged President Tshisekedi to resolve the issues highlighted by observer missions, and to implement measures that bolster confidence in the ongoing democratic journey,” Miller stated.
The dialogue between Tshisekedi and Blinken also delved into the pressing issue of instability in the eastern part of the DRC, primarily caused by the conflict involving the Congolese army and the M23 armed group. United Nations experts assert that Rwanda supports M23, adding complexity to the situation. The talks included strategies for resolving this conflict through diplomatic channels.
It’s noteworthy that President Biden sent multiple representatives to President Tshisekedi’s inauguration, signaling strong bilateral ties between the two nations. This gesture comes at a time when the DRC’s relations with Rwanda have been strained, with recent allegations of Rwanda’s closeness to the United States. However, international political analysts suggest that the U.S.-Rwanda relationship is currently experiencing challenges.