Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi is sworn into office following disputed reelection

Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi waves to the crowd during his swearing in ceremony for a second term in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024.
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Democratic Republic Of Congo

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi was sworn in Saturday following a disputed December election, promising to unite the Central African country during his second five-year term and to protect lives in the conflict-hit eastern region.

“I am taking back the baton of command that you entrusted to me. We want a more united, stronger and prosperous Congo,” Tshikedi, 60, said during the inauguration ceremony attended by several heads of state. His first inauguration in 2019 marked Congo’s first democratic transfer of power since the country’s independence from Belgium in 1960.

Tshisekedi won reelection with more than 70% of the vote, according to the election commission. However, opposition candidates and their supporters questioned the validity of the election, which was mired in logistical problems.

Many polling stations were late in opening or didn’t open at all while some lacked materials. Voter turnout was 40%, the election commission said.

Congo’s constitutional court earlier this month rejected a petition by an opposition candidate to annul the election. The court ruled that malpractice allegations were unfounded and that Tshisekedi secured “a majority of votes cast.”

Opposition candidates asked their supporters to protest the president’s inauguration, though there were no signs of protests in the capital, Kinshasa, on Saturday.

Congo, a country of more than 100 million people, is blessed with sprawling mineral resources, but economic and security challenges have stifled its developments. One in four citizens faces crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity, according to U.N. statistics.

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