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Kabila co-opts the opposition to prolong a family dynasty

The highly contested elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are now over and Joseph Kabila Kabange handed over the presidency to Félix Antoine Tshilombo Tshisekedi on January 24. Tshisekedi has been quickly recognised officially by the United States, Kenya and all the 16 Southern African Development Community member states to which the DRC belongs, among others. Much more significantly, the internal and potentially divisive position adopted by the Catholic Church’s National Episcopal Conference of Congo has been undone because six of the eight Catholic bishops in Tshiskedi’s Kasai region have now accepted the electoral outcome, arguing that, however flawed, this is a step towards democracy and social progress for all.R But these developments highlight the contradictions and lessons learnt from the past in at least three important aspects. The first is that Africa is having to contend with the cohesion of elite, hereditary “republican” dynasties, which are expanding and consolidating. This was manifest in the temporary collaboration between the families of the late Laurent-Désiré Kabila and the late Étienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba and now in the consensus reached between Joseph Kabila and Félix Tshisekedi. This new-found relationship is unequally balanced, with Kabila controlling the instruments of the state, including […]

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