KINSHASA (Reuters) – Democratic Republic of Congo’s new President Felix Tshisekedi was briefly taken ill during his inaugural address on Thursday but returned to the stage to complete his remarks.
Tshisekedi said he was exhausted by the long election process and the emotion of the occasion.
Tshisekedi says he soon will release all political prisoners in the country.
The opposition leader made the announcement shortly after taking the oath of office.
His speech appealed for peace and tolerance in the long-turbulent country after the disputed Dec. 30 election. He takes over from longtime leader Joseph Kabila, who received many cheers and some boos from the inauguration crowd when he was mentioned.
Congo’s new President Felix Tshisekedi is paying tribute to his father, the late opposition icon Etienne, who never achieved the post his son has won.
Tshisekedi in honoring his father refers to him as “president” — a nod to his father defiantly declaring himself president after losing a disputed election in 2011 to Joseph Kabila.
The inauguration crowd erupted in cheers.
Congo’s new leader notes his father’s “moral rigor” and fight for democracy over decades.
Etienne Tshisekedi had posed such a charismatic challenge that after he died in Belgium in 2017, Congo’s government did not allow his body to be brought home. His son’s spokesman has said that will be corrected once Felix Tshisekedi takes office.
Congo’s new President Felix Tshisekedi tells a cheering crowd upon his inauguration that the country will not be one of “division, hate or tribalism.”
The opposition leader takes office after a disputed election. He declares that the vast Central African nation is at “the horizon of a new era.” He calls for a moment of silence to remember compatriots who “fell on the field” while fighting for democracy over decades.
Questions remain about the Dec. 30 vote, but Congolese largely have accepted Tshisekedi’s win in the interest of peace. The new president salutes Martin Fayulu, who challenged the results, as a “veritable soldier of the people.”
Tshisekedi takes over from Joseph Kabila, who led the country since 2001. Kabila has urged the country to unite in support of the new leader.
This is the nation’s first peaceful transfer of power since independence nearly 60 years ago.
Congo’s Felix Tshisekedi has been sworn in as the new president, cementing the Central African nation’s first peaceful transfer of power since independence nearly 60 years ago.
The opposition leader has taken the oath and held up the national flag in celebration.
He takes over from Joseph Kabila, who led the country since 2001.
Questions remain about the disputed Dec. 30 vote, but Congolese largely have accepted Tshisekedi’s win in the interest of peace.
Congo is set to inaugurate an opposition leader as its unexpected new president in the Central African country’s first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since independence nearly 60 years ago.
The 55-year-old Felix Tshisekedi, son of the late opposition icon Etienne, will be sworn into office on Thursday at the Peoples’ Palace, the seat of the national legislature in the capital, Kinshasa.
Several African heads of state are expected to attend the ceremony, putting aside reservations over alleged election fraud that brought Tshisekedi to power.
Many Congolese hope that Tshisekedi will bring change after 18 years of rule by President Joseph Kabila. However, Tshisekedi must work with a legislature dominated by members of Kabila’s ruling coalition.
Tshisekedi’s supporters are gathering at the venue, entertained by traditional dancers.