A new date has been set for the body of Etienne Tshisekedi, who died February 1 in Brussels, to return to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Felix Tshisekedi, son of the late politician and opposition leader, said Thursday that the body is now scheduled to return to Kinshasa on May 12. That’s two months after the initial March 11 date for repatriation was planned but then delayed by political maneuvering between President Joseph Kabila’s government and the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) that Tshisekedi once led.
Those disputes included decisions about how Tshisekedi will be honored and where he will be buried. Ultimately, the wishes of the UDPS to have him buried at their party headquarters carried the day.
Yet Felix Tshisekedi, speaking from Brussels, added that there are still details to be worked out. Local media visited the burial site at UDPS headquarters with party and legal officials on Thursday and confirm that the construction of a mausoleum is progressing well and should be completed before the May 12 date.
The death of the elder Tshisekedi proved a setback in resolving the political crisis in the DR Congo. It came as the Rassemblement coalition pressured Kabila to begin implementation of a December 31 agreement, negotiated by CENCO, that created a power-sharing structure to move the nation forward in holding elections that have been postponed since December 2016.
Progress has stalled since Tshisekedi’s death and the internal UDPS divisions that followed. Kabila’s appointment of Bruno Tshibala to prime minister on April 7 further added to the conflict, as the selection process was viewed to be in violation of the December 31 agreement by many opposition politicians.
Kabila’s refusal to hold elections at the constitutionally mandated expiration of his second term sparked new waves of political violence among Congolese.
Image: Félix Tshisekedi