DR Congo’s new President-elect Felix Tshisekedi is due to be sworn in Thursday afternoon, after a disputed but peaceful election held in the country.
Tshisekedi is due to take over the mantle from the incumbent Joseph Kabila who has ruled the mineral rich country since 2001.
The new leader was declared the rightful winner of the December 30 election by DR Congo’s constitutional court, which also rejected a challenge by his opponent Martin Fayulu, who claimed to have won a majority of the vote.
Kabila called for unity in a late-night address on Wednesday, urging Congolese citizens to massively support the incoming leader. He praised the citizens for a calm and peaceful election, thanks to their “maturity”.
“I invite you to support him (Felix Tshisekedi) in mass in the same way you supported me during the past 18 years. I call on our youth in particular, future of the country.”
Kabila said in his speech that even though he did not achieve all that he had promised to, the country was more stable under his rule and that he was now ready to hand over power “without regret”.
“Respecting the constitution, I will hand over power tomorrow (Thursday) without regrets or remorse because despite the imperfections emanating from all man made work, Congo has come a long way and rests on a solid foundation today,” he said in a prerecorded speech broadcast on national television.
Felix Tshisekedi is the son of the late opposition leader Etienne, who died in Belgium in 2017. DR Congo’s government refused to allow his body to be brought home for burial, but officials say that that will now be corrected.
Fayulu, who went to court to seek a vote recount while pointing to leaking data attributed to Congo’s Electoral Commission, insists that he is the rightful winner. Many Congolese however have not responded to his calls for a peaceful protest, many signaling that Kabila’s departure is enough.
The swearing in ceremony is due to take place at the Palace of the Nation in the capital Kinshasa.