Étienne Tshisekedi

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Étienne Tshisekedi
Étienne Tshisekedi.jpg
Prime Minister of Zaire
In office
2 April 1997 – 9 April 1997
President Mobutu Sese Seko
Preceded by Léon Kengo
Succeeded by Likulia Bolongo
In office
15 August 1992 – 18 March 1993
President Mobutu Sese Seko
Preceded by Jean Nguza Karl-i-Bond
Succeeded by Faustin Birindwa
In office
29 September 1991 – 1 November 1991
President Mobutu Sese Seko
Preceded by Mulumba Lukoji
Succeeded by Bernardin Mungul Diaka
Personal details
Born (1932-12-14) 14 December 1932 (age 81)
Luluabourg, Belgian Congo
(now Luluabourg, Congo-Kinshasa)
Political party Union for Democracy and Social Progress
Alma mater University of Lovanium

Étienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba (born 14 December 1932[1]) is a politician who leads the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), a political party in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). A long-time opposition leader, he served as Prime Minister of the country (then called Zaire) on three brief occasions: in 1991, 1992–1993, and 1997.

Tshisekedi has been the primary Congolese opposition leader for decades.[2] Although he served in the government of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in various positions, he also led the campaign against Mobutu, and was one of only a few politicians who challenged that dictator.[2][3]

Tshisekedi and his UDPS party boycotted the 2006 elections organized in Congo claiming that the elections were fraudulent and were already systematically rigged in advance.[4]

He was a candidate for President of Congo in the 2011 elections that many national and international observers, notably the Carter Center, have said lacked credibility and transparency.[5] Having officially lost to incumbent Joseph Kabila, Tshisekedi nevertheless declared himself the "elected president" of Congo.[6] Policemen and Kabila's presidential guards were subsequently stationed at every corner that gives entrance to Tshisekedi's residence, placing him under unofficial house arrest.[7]

Early life and education[edit]

In 1932, Étienne Tshisekedi, son of Alexis Mulumba and his wife Agnès Kabena, was born in Luluabourg, Belgian Congo (now called Kananga, Kasai-Occidental, Democratic Republic of the Congo).[1][8] Ethnically, he is a member of the Luba people.[9] Tshisekedi attended primary school at Kabaluanda (West Kasai) and obtained a doctorate diploma in 1961 at the Lovanium University School of Law in Leopoldville (now Kinshasa); he was the first Congolese to ever get a doctorate diploma in law.[10]

Political career[edit]

Etienne Tshisekedi's career has been intertwined with the political history of his country; Congo won independence in 1960 from Belgium (which is one-eightieth the size of Congo geographically).

1960 to 2001[edit]

Advisor to Patrice-Emery Lumumba of the Mouvement National Congolais (MNC), Tshisekedi left the MNC to follow Albert Kalonji on his secessionist adventure in Kasai[disambiguation needed], acting as Minister of Justice in the newly autonomous State of Kasai.[citation needed] As a result of the loss of tax revenues from the rich Katanga and South Kasai provinces, Lumumba's government lost virtually all resources, and tried to suppress the secession.[citation needed]

In November 1965, Tshisekedi took part in the second Mobutu coup which led to the impeachment of President Kasavubu and his prime minister Kimba.[citation needed] Tshisekedi allegedly approved the execution of Kimba and his companions on the day of Pentecost, 2 June 1966.[citation needed]

He was a high-ranking member of the various governments formed by dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, who was president from 1965 to 1997. Tshisekedi helped amend the Congolese Constitution in 1967.[11] After the second coup of Mobutu, in 1965, Tshisekedi held ministerial positions.[citation needed] As such, Tshisekedi was instrumental in managing the country, allegedly based on the misappropriation of public funds and neutralization of all opposition.[citation needed] Tshisekedi remained in the Central Committee of the Popular Movement of the Revolution (Mouvement Populaire de la Revolution, MPR) until the early 1980s.[citation needed]

Relations with Mobutu ruptured around 1980, and Tshisekedi was removed from Mobutu's government. At that time, Tshisekedi formed the country's first opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), to counter Mobutu's party, the Popular Movement of the Revolution (MPR). Tshisekedi thus became the main voice for opponents of the dictatorship, in the country that was then called Zaire. That status enabled him to mobilize public opinion and the international community, and he continued advocating for change during Mobutu's tenure.[11] In 1980, Tshisekedi was thrown in prison for criticism of Mobutu's repressive regime, and ever since he has been thrown in prison numerous times by both Mobutu's government and Laurent Kabila's.

In 1989 still under Mobutu's reign, several cases of his detention were described as unlawful by the United Nations Human Rights Committee.[12]

On 15 February 1982, Tshisekedi co-founded the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), which he continues to lead. The party remains popular in Congo's capital Kinshasa, the two Kasai and Bas-Congo provinces as well as other provinces,[13] with its main goal being a non-violent change to democratic rule.

According to Kapinga (Vice-President of the MPR), Mobutu kept a number of Congolese tribes happy through the "sharing of money" with the tribes' power brokers.[citation needed] Under Mobutu's regime, Aponet Potia (Secretary General of the MPR) tried delivering money to Tshisekedi in the middle of the night, but Tshisekedi refused it. Mobutu tried and failed on several occasions to seduce Tshisekedi to take the money.[citation needed]

With the country in economic turmoil in the early 1990s, partly due to dictator Mobutu Sese Seko's loss of Western support after the Cold War, Mobutu bowed to pressure, and promised a transition to multiparty democracy.[14] Tshisekedi, who was Mobutu's most determined and popular rival, became Prime Minister on three separate occasions.[14] The first lasted only one month (29 September 1991 – 1 November 1991) before Mobutu sacked him, and the second only seven months (15 August 1992 – 18 March 1993). Both times, Tshisekedi asserted that he was prevented from functioning properly by Mobutu. The third term, while Laurent-Désiré Kabila's rebel forces were marching on Kinshasa, lasted only a week (2 April 1997 – 9 April 1997) and was again ended by Mobutu's lack of cooperation. A month later Laurent Kabila overthrew Mobutu, in connection with the First Congo War.

Laurent Kabila ruled by decree, and banned party politics until general elections in 1999.[3] In 1998, a constitutional committee drew up a list of 250 people who would not be allowed to run for President, including Tshisekedi.[3] He was sent into internal exile in February 1998, after he was accused of violating the ban on party politics.[3]

President Laurent Kabila (who had overthrown Mobutu in 1997) was assassinated in 2001, and was succeeded ten days later by his son, Joseph Kabila. Tshisekedi refused to enter the government of Joseph Kabila, or the previous government of his father, and likened them to Mobutu.[11]

2005–2006 elections[edit]

In the run-up to the 2006 national elections, Tshisekedi decided to boycott the electoral process and the constitutional referendum because he believed they were rigged in advance.[15]

Joseph Kabila won the presidential election. Tshisekedi considered the elections of 2006 to be a "masquerade", and has said that Joseph Kabila's election was decided in advance by influential people outside Congo. Kabila defeated Jean-Pierre Bemba, with Tshisekedi on the sidelines. So, Kabila remained in office, having initially taken office in 2001, ten days after the assassination of his father, President Laurent-Désiré Kabila (who had overthrown Mobutu in 1997).

2011 elections[edit]

At a UDPS meeting in April 2009, the party indicated that it would participate in the 2011 election, and asked that Tshisekedi be their presidential candidate.[16] He officially confirmed his candidacy in December 2010 at a congress of his party in Kinshasa, which was the first official party congress since the party formed in 1982.[17][18]

In August 2011, Tshisekedi sought to negotiate with other opposition parties to form a joint effort against incumbent Joseph Kabila.[19] This is Tshisekedi's first bid for the presidency since forming the country's first opposition party in 1982.[19] Candidates campaigned relatively freely, and Tshisekedi held large rallies. But neither candidate was prepared to admit defeat."[20]

Tshisekedi pointed not only to lack of democracy, but also lack of water and electricity, as reasons to elect him.[11] He said that a vote for him would be a vote for a 30-year fight to uphold the rule of law and good governance in Congo. Tshisekedi was supported by about 80 political parties, but he had adversaries within the opposition, such as Vital Kamerhe, Nzanga Mobutu (son of the former dictator), and Senate president Kengo Wa Dondo. Tshisekedi said that none of them have been in the opposition long enough to be credible.[11]

This time around, Bemba (the 2006 presidential candidate) was sidelined, on trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague for alleged war crimes in 2002–2003. The election occurred 28 November 2011.[21]

Many national and international observers, notably the Carter Center, said the election was marred with serious irregularities and lacked credibility and transparency.[5] Tshisekedi rejected the results announced by the CENI, the body responsible for the organization of elections, saying that they did not reflect the will of the people, and declared himself the "elected president" of Congo.[22][23] Tshisekedi held a private inauguration ceremony after police used tear gas to disperse a public inauguration.[6][24]

Vital Kamerhe, a former ally of president Kabila, rejected the results announced by the CENI (the body responsible for the organization of elections), and said Tshisekedi was the one who legitimately won the election.[25] Several other opposition candidates recognized Tshisekedi as the victor, and called for the election to be annulled.[26]

In addition to the Carter Center, an observer mission from the European Union noted lack of transparency, and the archbishop of Kinshasa, Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya claimed that the results announced by the CENI did not reflect the will of the people.[27] These and other observations compromised the integrity of the presidential election, according to the Carter Center.[28] MONUSCO, the peacekeeping mission of the United Nations, also voiced concern about the results.

The election result was confirmed by the Supreme Court of the Democratic Republic of Congo.[citation needed] A day after holding a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs on governance in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Senators Coons (D-Del.) and Isakson (R-Ga.) of the US senate expressed deep concern about the ruling of the Congolese Supreme Court.[29] Then on 20 December 2011, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed serious disappointment with the Congolese supreme court decision.[30]

Tshisekedi urged the armed forces to disobey Kabila, and added that he would offer a "great prize" to anyone who captured President Joseph Kabila.[31]

Post 2011 election[edit]

Tshisekedi's party headquarters was burglarized after his inauguration.[32] Tshisekedi is said to be under house arrest.[7]

The rebel March 23 Movement, which captured the city of Goma in November 2012, has listed the release of Tshisekedi as one of their demands and claim to be willing to leave the provincial capital of North Kivu if he is granted freedom of movement, among other things.[33]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Political Risk Services (2001). Political risk yearbook: Sub-Saharan Africa: Volume 4. IBC Publications. p. 30. ISBN 1-931077-59-2. 
  2. ^ a b "DR Congo rebels cement alliance". BBC News. 27 June 2002. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Congo Readies A Presidency; Dissidents Disqualified". The New York Times. 1 April 1998. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  4. ^ "Weekly briefing on DRC elections". Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "http://www.france24.com/en/20111211-four-killed-drc-election-violence-etienne-tshisekedi%20-joseph-kabila". Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  6. ^ a b "Congo opposition leader holds own inauguration". Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "DR Congo's Tshisekedi under unofficial house arrest", BBC News (26 January 2012).
  8. ^ La Prospérité (26 April 2010). "Clément Lumbala repose désormais au cimetière de Kinkole" (in French). allAfrica.com. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  9. ^ Williame, Jean-Claude et al. (1997). Zaire: Predicament and Prospects. DIANE Publishing. p. 3. ISBN 0-7881-7042-2.  Per this source, Tshisekedi is sometimes known as the "Zairian Moise", Moïse being the French translation of Moses.
  10. ^ Ndaywel è Nziem, Isidore (1998). Histoire générale du Congo. De Boeck Supérieur. p. 508. ISBN 2-8011-1174-0. 
  11. ^ a b c d e Mbog, Raoul (20 September 2011). "Etienne Tshisekedi, la dernière lutte du sphinx" (in French). SlateAfrique.com. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  12. ^ Human Rights Committee views on communicatios Nos. 241/1987 and 242/1987
  13. ^ [1], wikileaks.org US diplomatic cable n°53414 – 17 February 2006 – 06KINSHASA268 – Embassy Kinshasa
  14. ^ a b French, Howard (17 May 1997). "An Anatomy of Autocracy: Mobutu's Era". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  15. ^ [2], wikileaks.org US diplomatic cable n°49175 – 5 January 2006 – 06KINSHASA23 – Embassy Kinshasa
  16. ^ Le Phare (16 April 2009). "Congo-Kinshasa: E. Tshisekedi plébiscité par les congressistes" (in French). allAfrica.com. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  17. ^ Kambale, Juakali (15 December 2010). "Congo-Kinshasa: E. Tshisekedi plébiscité par les congressistes". Africa Review. Retrieved 28 September 2011. 
  18. ^ "Congrès de l’UDPS: Tshisekedi appelle à l’unité de son parti et de l’opposition pour la conquête du pouvoir". Radio Okapi (in French). 11 December 2010. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  19. ^ a b "Fears of violence in Congo elections". USA Today. Associated Press. 15 August 2011. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  20. ^ Stearns, Jason (3 August 2011). "Congo election season in full swing, along with electoral problems". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  21. ^ Kavanaugh, Michael (30 April 2011). "Congo Electoral Commission Says Presidential Elections to Be Held Nov. 28". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  22. ^ [3], Joseph Kabila déclaré élu, Tshisekedi se proclame président
  23. ^ "Congo's Tshisekedi swears himself in". Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  24. ^ "DR Congo police block entry to Tshisekedi inauguration". BBC News. 23 December 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  25. ^ "Vital Kamerhe soutient Tshisekedi". Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  26. ^ Smith, David (29 November 2011). "DR Congo opposition candidate calls for election to be annulled". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  27. ^ Adam Nossiter (12 December 2011). "Congo President Kabila Denies Reports of Election Fraud". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  28. ^ Kara, Baya. "Carter Center: DRC Presidential Election Results Lack Credibility". Carter Center. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  29. ^ "Senators Coons, Isakson react to Congolese Supreme Court decision, call for transparent review of election results". Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  30. ^ "Supreme Court Decision Confirming Results of the Presidential Election in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)". Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  31. ^ "Tshisekedi urges armed forces to obey him". Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  32. ^ "RDC: Le siège de l’UDPS à Kinshasa cambriolé". Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  33. ^ http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2012/11/20121127144732872886.html

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Mulumba Lukoji
Prime Minister of Zaire
1991
Succeeded by
Bernardin Mungul Diaka
Preceded by
Jean Nguza Karl-i-Bond
Prime Minister of Zaire
1992–1993
Succeeded by
Faustin Birindwa
Preceded by
Léon Kengo
Prime Minister of Zaire
1997
Succeeded by
Likulia Bolongo