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The Unexpected Transfer Of Power In Congo

Felix Tshisekedi, the only one of six sons to enter politics, doesn't have his father's fire, some observers have said.

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Congo
Felix Tshisekedi, leader of the Congolese main opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) who was announced as the winner of the presidential elections gestures to his supporters in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Jan. 10 VOA

Felix Tshisekedi has emerged from his father’s shadow to become Congo’s next president. For decades that post eluded his father, the venerated opposition politician, Etienne, whose death in 2017 helped catapult his son into the limelight.

The passage of power from father to son is a familiar story in Congo, where President Joseph Kabila took office at age 29 after the assassination of his father, Laurent, in 2001. He stayed on two years beyond his mandate amid delayed elections that finally took place on Dec. 30.

Now Tshisekedi, 55, is taking over after a disputed vote, with his inauguration on Thursday marking troubled Congo’s first democratic transfer of power since independence in 1960 from Belgium.

Many Congolese say his surprise victory is one the largely untested opposition leader did not earn.

Congo, President, Election
Supporters of Felix Tshisekedi, Democratic Republic of Congo’s opposition politician declared winner of the presidential poll, sing and dance ahead of the Constitutional Court final decision on the presidential results, in Kinshasa, Jan. 19, 2019. VOA

Runner-Up Revolts

Runner-up Martin Fayulu on Sunday lost a court challenge to election results despite presenting leaked data from Congo’s electoral commission showing he easily won. Fayulu has declared himself the only legitimate president, but Congolese largely have not heeded his call for peaceful protests.

Fayulu and his supporters have accused Kabila of making a backroom deal with Tshisekedi when the ruling party’s candidate did poorly in the vote. Fayulu, an opposition lawmaker and businessman who is outspoken about cleaning up Congo’s sprawling corruption, has been seen by some as a bigger threat to Kabila and his allies.

Tshisekedi “was somebody who would compromise and somebody they felt they could work with because he wasn’t saying he would launch an investigation into Kabila,” said Andrew Edward Tchie, research fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

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Felix Tshisekedi, leader of the Congolese main opposition party, was announced as the winner of the presidential elections. He gestures to his supporters at the party headquarters in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Jan. 10, 2019. VOA

His presidency will essentially be “a continuation of the regime,” Tchie said. Even if Fayulu had been declared the winner “it would have been the same thing,” given that Kabila’s ruling coalition won a majority of the National Assembly.

Tshisekedi, who was largely quiet after the election, has not addressed the allegation of a secret deal. He told supporters after the court’s declaration of his victory that “the Congo that we are going to form will not be a Congo of division, hatred or tribalism. It will be a reconciled Congo, a strong Congo that will be focused on development, peace and security.”

Nobody thought the electoral process would be peaceful, Tshisekedi has said, and no one thought an opposition candidate would win.

After division among African leaders over the disputed vote, some have congratulated Tshisekedi and urged Congolese to move on in the interest of stability after decades of rebel-led turmoil that have left millions dead.

Until his surprise victory, Tshisekedi’s most notable political act had been briefly supporting Fayulu as the candidate of an opposition coalition last year but then breaking away within a day to pursue the presidency himself.

Congo
Supporters of Felix Tshisekedi, who was announced as the winner of the presidential elections, celebrate in the streets of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. VOA

Tshisekedi, the father of five, quietly built his career in the shadow of his father, taking over Congo’s most prominent opposition party only a year after his death.

He had been named the Union for Democracy and Social Progress party’s national secretary in 2008, and was elected a national deputy in 2011 to the city of Mbujimayi in Kasai Oriental province. He later won a National Assembly seat and in 2016 became the party’s vice secretary.

The party’s supporters are nicknamed “the fighters” for their outspoken following. When they speak of Tshisekedi or the UDPS, there is usually mention of his charismatic father.

“Etienne left us the agreement [for Kabila to leave], now Felix is going to be president,” said one supporter, Jean-Baptiste Lay.

Etienne Tshisekedi’s death came at a fragile moment for Congo. He was deeply involved in efforts to persuade Kabila to agree to step down amid sometimes deadly protests over the election delay.

The 84-year-old had formed the country’s first opposition party in 1982 against the longtime dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko and briefly served several times as prime minister.

Congo, President, Election
Congo opposition candidate Martin Fayulu greets supporters as he arrives at a rally in Kinshasha, Congo, Jan. 11, 2019. VOA

Tshisekedi went into exile in 2000 after clashes with Kabila’s father, who took power after Mobutu’s ouster. He made a triumphant return in 2003 as Joseph Kabila was early in his rule. He lost to Kabila in the 2011 presidential election amid allegations of vote-rigging and declared himself president in protest.

When he died in Belgium, Kabila’s government was so wary of the impact on people the return of his body to Congo could cause that until now they have blocked it from coming home.

Also Read: Calm Settles Over Congo After Election Result

Felix Tshisekedi, the only one of six sons to enter politics, doesn’t have his father’s fire, some observers have said. Questions remain about his abilities and qualifications. Some Belgian media have questioned the veracity of his diploma, but Congolese law says a candidate can either submit a diploma or serve a certain amount of time as a politician to qualify to run for president.

As Congo’s incoming leader inherits the troubled country, he will look to his father’s legacy. One of his first things Tshisekedi will do once sworn in, a spokesman said, is finally allow his father’s body to come home for burial. (VOA)

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Violence isn’t Reasonable in Democracy, Says Kangana Ranaut on CAA Row

Kangana Ranaut on CAA stir: Violence isn't reasonable in democracy

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Kangana Ranaut
Kangana Ranaut. IANS

Actress Kangana Ranaut says indulging in violence over Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAA) is not a very reasonable thing to do, in a democracy like India.

“What gives you the right to burn buses, trains and create ruckus in the country? A bus costs around Rs 70-80 lakh, and that is not a small amount. Have you seen the condition of people in our country? People in this country are dying of hunger and malnutrition. It is not very reasonable for people to indulge in violence,” said Kangana.

“I also feel that in the name of democracy — this is my very personal opinion — we’re still hooked to the pre-Independence era, where our country was under seige or bondage, and people had captured us by force or the gun. Going on strikes, shutting down the country or not paying taxes against those people was considered cool. But in today’s democracy, your leader is someone from among you. He is not from Japan or China or someplace else,” said Kangana, at the trailer launch of her upcoming film “Panga”. She attended the event with the film’s director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, co-actress Richa Chadha, and composers Shankar Mahadevan and Loy Mendonsa.

Government
India has a long tradition to give shelter to people who have been prosecuted due to their religious belief starting from Syrian Christians, Parsi from Iran and Jews.  The decision of the Indian Government is entirely in line with this tradition of welcoming religiously prosecuted minorities, Still Protests All Over The Country is Creating Heavy Situation of Unrest. Wikimedia Commons

Seeking support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she said: “Our leader came from a very small place and with a lot of difficulties made something of himself with hard work, and we have won on his merits and he has written everything in his manifesto and then won, and now when he is fulfilling everything he promised, that’s democracy, is it not? So this doesn’t happen, you cannot be a sore loser.”

“Panga” is a sports drama that also features Jassi Gill, Neena Gupta and Pankaj Tripathi. The story depicts the struggle of a Kabaddi player.

Also Read: Apple iPhone 12 May use Sensor-shifting Technology to Stabilise Images

Talking about title “Panga” (which means, to mess around with something), and her experience of messing around with life, Kangana said: “I think every time in my life I took ‘panga’, I achieved growth. When I was 15 years old, I ended up taking ‘panga’ with my father and that was the most stupid thing to do. It led to a lot of problems in life. But essentially if I hadn’t gone ahead and taken that ‘panga’, I wouldn’t have been here, where I am now. So every ‘panga’ has given a new landmark in my life. I wouldn’t exchange where I am today for anything.”

“Panga” is set to theatrically release on January 24, for the Republic Day weekend. (IANS)