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Congo President Didn’t Run for Re-election, but He’s Still in Control

Category: Africa,World

Nevertheless, he said, “we need to work together to build the future.”

President Kabila may be forced to make certain concessions, such as giving up his vast holdings of land, property and businesses across the country, Mr. Mutala said. President Kabila, according to Jeune Afrique, an online magazine, is expected to remain in his presidential palace while Mr. Tshisekedi would live in the current residence reserved for the prime minister.

Mr. Tshisekedi, for his part, said that one of his first actions would be to return the remains of his father, Etienne Tshisekedi, whose corpse has been languishing in a morgue in Belgium since his death two years ago.

Tshisekedi père, as some call him affectionately, was so popular for having fought Mobutu, a dictator and kleptocrat backed by the United States, that the Kabila government worried that bringing back his body would be enough to trigger a popular uprising.

But few Congolese want to see a repeat of the large-scale violence that erupted after elections in 2006 and 2011, as well as 2016, when President Kabila refused to step down after his constitutionally-mandated two-term limit ended. He finally did last year, putting forward Mr. Shadary, who was dealt such a spectacular defeat that Mr. Kabila was forced to choose between the two opposition candidates in an effort to avoid sparking widespread unrest and outright international condemnation.

“The Congolese aspire to peace,” said Mr. Mutala. The economy has languished in a country that, paradoxically, is rich in natural resources, but most of its population lives on about a dollar. The killings of hundreds of protesters over the years have exhausted a nation traumatized by state-led violence and impoverishment, he said.

“In the name of peace, they are ready to close their eyes on some irregularities that have marred the electoral process,” Mr. Mutala said. “Politics in Congo is a game that is exciting, but dangerous,” he said, adding after a pause. “Very dangerous.”

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