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DRC President: A great Congo needs great ambition
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) President Félix Tshisekedi has defended his political alliance with former president Joseph Kabila. In a speech that lasted nearly three hours, he also addressed members of parliament about his key policies as head of state.
It was a historic moment for the DRC under President Félix Tshisekedi.
For the first time in 18 years, the country’s State of the Nation Address was delivered by someone other than Joseph Kabila.
Supporters of Tshisekedi’s party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), gathered outside the gates of the People’s Palace to celebrate the event. They welcomed their leader by chanting his nickname – “Fasthi Béton”.
Tshisekedi’s first State of the Nation Address lasted almost three hours.
Achievements and upheavals
Almost a year after his election victory, Tshisekedi called on various political actors to protect the country’s “historical” achievements.
- “There are no winners on one side and losers on the other… We have reached an essential stage in our history, because we have proved, first to our compatriots and then to the whole world, that we have the moral and patriotic resources necessary to ensure the integrity of our territory and the unity of our nation,” says DRC President Félix Tshisekedi.
The current president also paid tribute to his predecessor, Joseph Kabila who he describes as a “brother”. Tshisekedi praised Kabila’s “courage” and “constitutional commitment to allow the Congolese people to freely choose their new leaders”.
Tshisekedi also dismissed concerns about the tensions between his coalition – Cap for Change (Cach) – and his predecessor’s Common Front for Congo (FCC).
- “Upheavals… [are] inherent in any new political experience… We must all surpass ourselves, transcending our differences at all times,” according to Tshisekedi.
“Redeployment” in the East
The president also acknowledged the sacrifices of soldiers engaged in the armed conflict with “terrorist groups” in Beni, North Kivu.
The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) together with the Congolese armed forces (FARDC) have been battling the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militants.
Tshisekedi lashed out at protesters who torched a Monusco base in Beni. They accused the UN mission of “inaction and powerlessness” in the face of attacks by ADF fighters.
- “Monusco is not intended to remain in the Democratic Republic of Congo indefinitely. It has been a valuable contribution to the effort to pacify the DRC for almost 20 years,” says the Congolese president.
Tshisekedi says he wants to move towards a “concerted, organised, and structured redeployment of Monusco troops”, and that he would use “all the cards at his disposal” to put an end to the ADF.
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A giant with feet of clay
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Tshisekedi says he also wants to end the “paradox of being considered as one of the potentially richest countries in the world, but whose population is among the poorest in the world”.
He praised the introduction of free basic education in the country, which “has enabled some 2.5 million children who were previously excluded from the education system to return to school”.
He defended the 2020 budget, which has come under fire from several experts, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Critics describe the $10bn budget as utopian.
- “I have heard people describe this budget as utopian, unrealistic and overly ambitious. I do not agree with them. Because for a great Congo, you need great ambition,” says Tshisekedi.
The Congolese president says he’s taking action against people who are embezzling public money.
- “They will be dismantled, and I will be tough in the fight against corruption,” says Tshisekedi.
This article first appeared in Jeune Afrique