President Felix Tshisekedi was sworn in for his second five-year term on Saturday, following a disputed December election that sparked concerns over its legitimacy.
During the inauguration ceremony attended by several heads of state, the 60-year-old leader pledged to unite the Central African country and prioritize the protection of lives in the conflict-ridden eastern region.
“I am taking back the baton of command that you entrusted to me. We want a more united, stronger, and prosperous Congo,” stated President Tshisekedi.
His first inauguration in 2019 marked a historic moment for Congo, representing the country’s first democratic transfer of power since gaining independence from Belgium in 1960.
President Tshisekedi secured re-election with over 70% of the vote, as reported by the election commission. However, the election was marred by logistical problems, with many polling stations experiencing delays or failing to open.
Some stations lacked essential materials, and the overall voter turnout was reported at 40%, according to the election commission.
Despite opposition candidates and their supporters questioning the validity of the election, Congo’s constitutional court recently dismissed a petition to annul the results.
The court concluded that malpractice allegations were unfounded and affirmed that Tshisekedi had secured “a majority of votes cast.”
Ahead of the inauguration, opposition candidates called on their supporters to protest, though no signs of protests were reported in the capital, Kinshasa, on Saturday.
Congo, home to over 100 million people and abundant mineral resources, faces significant economic and security challenges that hinder its development.
Approximately one in four citizens experiences crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity, according to U.N. statistics.
President Tshisekedi’s second term begins amid ongoing concerns about the electoral process and the need to address the country’s pressing economic and security issues.
The international community will closely monitor developments in Congo, emphasizing the importance of stability, democratic governance, and improved living conditions for its citizens.