Opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi was sworn in as president of the Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday, replacing longtime President Joseph Kabila following disputed elections.
During his inaugural speech, Tshisekedi briefly fell ill and left the stage. He later returned to finish his remarks, saying that he was exhausted by the election process and overcome by the emotion of the occasion.
In his remarks, Tshisekedi pledged to release all political prisoners in the country. He also appealed for peace and tolerance.
Ahead of the swearing in ceremony, Kabila on Wednesday said he would hand over power “without regret” and urged Congolese to support Tshisekedi, the 55-year-old son of the late opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi.
Kabila, 47, had ruled the mineral-rich African giant since 2001 following the assassination of his father, rebel-turned-president Laurent.
Tshisekedi was declared the surprise winner of the December 30 election, which was held after Kabila delayed a vote for two years amid violent protests.
Thursday’s ceremony marked Congo’s first transfer of power via an election since gaining independence from Belgium in 1960. The country has been marred by a tumultuous history of coups, despots, assassinations, foreign interventions, civil war and the gutting of state institutions.
Tshisekedi was declared the winner of the election with 38.5 percent of the vote, while the opposition runner-up Martin Fayulu gained 34.8 percent. Kabila’s preferred successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, got 23.8 percent. Read More