High-profile International Presence Expected at Félix Tshisekedi’s Inauguration

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
3 Min Read

President Félix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is set to be sworn in for a second term after the Constitutional Court confirmed his reelection with over 73% of the votes. The inauguration ceremony is scheduled to take place at the Stade des Martyrs, the largest stadium in the capital city of Kinshasa, and is anticipated to host nearly twenty heads of state, primarily from the African continent.

According to the presidency, this inauguration is poised to witness the largest number of foreign heads of state since the country gained independence. In total, 18 African heads of state are expected to attend, compared to three in 2018, one in 2011, and nine in 2006 during Joseph Kabila’s election.

The Central African region will be well-represented in the stands of Kinshasa’s Stade des Martyrs, with almost all heads of state from the area confirming their participation. Additionally, leaders from Southern Africa are expected to attend, given the ongoing deployment of a military force in the eastern DRC by the regional community to replace the East African Community’s mission.

While East Africa will have a lesser representation at this ceremony, despite the DRC’s recent accession to the East African Community in 2022 during Tshisekedi’s first term, notable figures like the President of Burundi, a current military ally of Kinshasa, and Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto are expected to be present, despite diplomatic tensions between their countries.

Notably, Rwandan President Paul Kagame has not been invited, as Congolese authorities have accused him of supporting the M23 rebellion in the eastern part of the country for the past two years. These allegations, denied by Kigali but supported by several UN reports, led to Kagame’s exclusion from the event.

While no European or Asian heads of state are expected, some governments will be represented. The United States has sent a high-level delegation, France dispatched its new Africa envoy Jérémie Robert, and Belgium, the former colonial power, will be represented by Senate President Stéphanie D’Hose. The presidency also confirmed the participation of two vice presidents and high-level foreign representatives, including from the Middle East.

Although four former African heads of state, such as Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo and Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete, are anticipated, Tshisekedi’s predecessor, Joseph Kabila, will be notably absent. Kabila, who is boycotting the ongoing electoral process, is reportedly in South Africa for scientific evaluations related to his doctoral thesis.

The inauguration ceremony of the 5th president in Congolese history will take place at the Stade des Martyrs, with heightened security provided by defense and security forces. In response to opposition-led protests against what they term “fraud,” the capital’s police chief has already warned that any gathering outside the inauguration ceremony is strictly prohibited.

Soukaina Sghir

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