DR Congo’s surprise presidential poll winner’s cordial relations with ODM leader raises interest

Mr Felix Tshisekedi, the son of DR Congo’s veteran opposition leader, Etienne, has taken the prize that eluded his late father — the presidency. PHOTO | FABRICE COFFRINI | AFP 

On the evening of November 22, 2018 media houses were invited to a press conference to be addressed by Felix Tshisekedi, the recently declared winner of Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential elections.

The press conference was to be held at Nairobi’s Serena Hotel and it is at that event that he declared his candidature in last month’s presidential election.

Days earlier, Mr Tshisekedi had bolted out of an opposition alliance that had selected Martin Fayulu as the sole opposition flag-bearer in Brussels, Belgium.

It was in Nairobi that Tshisekedi announced that he had selected another opposition leader Vital Kamerhe of Union for the Congolese Nation as his running mate.


Last week, the country’s election commission CENi (Independent National Electoral Commission) announced that Mr Tshisekedi had won the presidential vote.



He reportedly beat the pre-election favourite, Mr Fayulu by 38 per cent of the total votes cast against the latter’s 34 per cent. Fuyulu has already challenged the elections outcome in court.

Should Mr Tshisekedi, son of veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi be installed as DRC’s next president, the relations between Kinshasa and Nairobi are bound to change a great deal.

Outgoing President Joseph Kabila had long accused Kenya of being the conduit for stolen minerals from his country. Indeed, in 2011, he flew to Nairobi and met then President Mwai Kibaki over reports that some gold had been stolen gold from his country.

A Tshisekedi presidency is likely to see warm relations between the two countries especially because of his close links with opposition leader Raila Odinga.


When he announced his presidential bid in Nairobi, it was Dennis Onyango, Mr Odinga’s spokesman, who worked round the clock to ensure the media covered the story.

After the press conference, Mr Tshisekedi met Mr Odinga for private talks and, sources indicated, the two held further private meeting with a senior government official at the instigation of the ODM leader. Around the same time, Mr Onyango wrote an opinion piece discussing the Congo elections.

Relations between Mr Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta have greatly improved and this may translate to Kenya benefiting from Congo’s vast mineral wealth.

Kenya has been aiming to make Nairobi a mineral trade hub in line with the Mining Act, 2016 and Congo having one of the largest minerals reserves a warm relationship between the two countries cannot come at a better time.


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