Share

Congolese finally pay tribute to late opposition leader

Share

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Tens of thousands of mourners, some of whom camped outside overnight, gathered on Friday to finally say farewell to Etienne Tshisekedi, the Congolese opposition icon whose son was declared president earlier this year.

The stadium ceremony came more than two years after the elder Tshisekedi died abroad at age 84. His rift with then-president Joseph Kabila was so entrenched that his remains were not allowed to return after his death in Belgium of a pulmonary embolism in 2017.

After Kabila gave way to pressure for a new presidential election in January, Tshisekedi’s son Felix was declared the winner. He vowed that his father’s remains would come home to Congo, where he was the face of the political opposition for decades.

“I haven’t slept in two days. I will only sleep once they have buried him,” said Lisette Kapinga, 32, who was among the crowd gathered at Martyrs Stadium in Kinshasa where many wore dresses made of fabric with Tshisekedi’s image.

In life, Etienne Tshisekedi was at times put under house arrest, his supporters jailed and beaten.

Trending:
GOP Rep Introduces Bill That Would Make It a Lot Harder for House Leaders to Lie

But after the seismic shift in Congo’s political climate, he is being given a farewell befitting a senior statesman, with some African presidents in attendance including Rwanda’s Paul Kagame.

Kabila’s FCC coalition released a statement Friday acknowledging the role Tshisekedi had played over the years.

“Etienne Tshisekedi was undoubtedly one of the major political actors of our country — a hyperactive fighter, but also a man of dialogue,” it said.

A seven-hour procession to downtown Kinshasa followed the arrival of his casket Thursday night at Kinshasa’s airport.

Pallbearers wearing ties representing the Congolese flag carried the casket into the stadium on Friday. The flat cap that Tshisekedi always wore was placed atop the casket.

Jannot Nlandu, a 28-year-old student, said Friday’s outpouring showed just how popular Tshisekedi was even though he never got the chance to serve as president.

“Even in death he can draw huge crowds” Nlandu said. “He is the king of Kinshasa.”

___

Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal contributed.

Related:
Former Trump FDA Head Says CDC Guidance Hurt Pandemic Response

___

Follow Africa news at https://twitter.com/AP_Africa

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →



loading

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

Tags:
Share
The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands.
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
Location
New York City




loading

Conversation