Félix Tshisekedi's outstretched hand -- Vows "No Revenge"

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Felix Tshisekedi. Photo: Facebook
Felix Tshisekedi, head of the Coalition for Change (CACH), proved himself, alongside his Vice-Presidential candidate and campaign director, to be a responsible, non-confrontational man.  Eight days ago in Limete, we saw him call on voters to be patient, voters enraged by a machines' breakdown that had been going on since the morning, and in the end it was Corneille Nangaa himself who came to replace the defective machine at the end of the afternoon, allowing the people of Kinshasa to cast their votes until after midnight.
We remember that, while Martin Fayulu was still talking about destroying the "cheating machines," it was Tshisekedi who first declared that he himself was confident that the Congo would go to the polls anyway, and accepted the one-week postponement decreed by CENI for technical reasons. Once again, while CENI explains that, in the vote compilation centers, work continues to progress but is not yet completed, and asks for a new extension of the deadline before issuing the final result, the UDPS leader is calm.  This also is logical. Not having trusted at the outset  the electronic counting of votes, we in the opposition demanded a manual counting.  The latter method obviously takes longer; and we must accept this...  It is possible that CENI, relying on the electronically counted results, already has a final verdict, but cannot announce it because the only result that will be valid is the one that will be arrived at from counting the votes manually..."
Having lived in Belguim for a long time, Félix Tshisekedi, during his electoral campaign, traveled to the interior of the country, to the deep Congo, and in particular to the eastern provinces, to the stronghold of his running-mate, Vital Kamerhe.  He came back very unsettled, not only by the warm welcome he received, or by the hope for change he witnessed, but also because "living conditions are terrible there. People live in insecurity, in total uncertainty, their lives are like a lottery.  My priority, for these eastern regions, but also for Kasai, is to bring peace. When I myself wanted to go to Butembo by road, I had to change plans because it was too dangerous. I was given to understand that anything could happen... This situation is all the more scandalous because the subsoil of these regions is incredibly rich... Coming back from these regions, I swore to myself I would do everything I could to restore peace, to bring reconciliation to the the Congo, to really return the country to the path of  development."
For Félix Tshisekedi, whose father, Etienne, was the first lawyer trained after independence, "it is urgent to restore the rule of law and rehabilitate public administration.  In the regions where I have been I have noticed that the State simply no longer exists... The first thing to do is to hold a census, so as to have an exact count of the population, to know its numbers, its needs..."
"It is also urgent to fight what we call 'anti-values', to eradicate corruption, to fight against impunity. I want the Congo to once again become a state governed by the rule of law, whose first citizen, the head of state, will be at the service of all...  We must also redistribute wealth differently, we must focus on education.  Education must be compulsory, and free for everyone as well.
There is a lot of talk about my country's mining resources. Firstly, I want their use to be transparent and clear.  Without wishing to call into question mining contracts, I want them to be established in a transparent manner, following win/win principles.  We will no longer have opaque contracts.  Everyone will have to be accountable at all levels.
However, I would also like to stress that not everything can be expected from our mines: the real wealth of Congo is in agriculture. While we have 80 million hectares of arable land, people are going hungry, this is a real scandal. It is also agriculture that will provide jobs..."
Once again, Félix Tshisekedi talks about appeasement: "As far as the administration of the country is concerned, I want to restore confidence.  In the immediate future, only a few days before the election results are announced, I call on the people to be calm.  We must wait for the results to come back from the provinces, from remote areas. In any case, I would like to remind you that the result to be announced by CENI will never be more than provisional, and that the time for appeals will then begin, before the final results are announced. This whole process will require patience. I do not agree that, at the outset of the observations of CENCO (Catholic Bishops' Conference), which participated in monitoring the elections, the Lamuka coalition already flooded social media networks. CENCO may have been mistake in its communication strategy, Lamuka took advantage of it and that has pushed people to extreme reactions... I'm merely saying that we have to wait until the work of compiling the votes is completed,  and on the basis of the information we have so far, I'm confident."
Having been one of the first to accept the use of the voting machine, Félix Tshisekedi, eight days after the vote, did not withdraw his confidence in Corneille Nangaa, the president of the CENI (Elections Center): "Certainly, there were incidents, waiting times, but overall it went well. My verdict is that of satisfaction...  And the voting machine, which were so greatly criticized, have finally proved their worth. I even believe that in the future, we will be able to keep this system..."
Felix Tshisekedi rejects any prospect of disorder or even violence when the results are announced.  "We must not engage in a witch hunt, we must avoid seeking a settling of scores. When we are under the rule of law, we will need everyone.  There must be no frustrations... You know, the dissensions between the Congolese are not insurmountable... We'll have to forgive, to put the past behind us. The new leader of the country will have to bring everyone together and build tomorrow's Congo. It is time to give hope to a young people who must be given direction, to benefit from the wealth of their country..."
The son of the charismatic opposition leader is not starting from scratch.  "My party is one of the oldest in the country, it has many leaders and activists... But to develop the Congo, there is no such thing as a magic potion: you have to work. That is also why I am counting on the return of many of our fellow citizens living abroad, the diaspora will help us to change our mentality..."
In Geneva, there was fraud...
Still, the President of the UDPS has not forgotten the incident in Geneva last December when, after a vote that would designate the future "sole candidate" for the opposition, to everyone's surprise, the name of Martin Fayulu appeared.  "I do not want to dwell on what really happened, the time has not yet come. If I have not held onto any grudges, I still feel bitter. I felt betrayed. I'm weighing the word: there was fraud.  This means that there was deceit on the goods that were sold.
There had been procedural irregularities, and these were intentional.  When I realized it, the damage was already done. Vital Kamerhe shared my feelings and at home, in my support base, my party did not agree with what had happened.  So I refused to go along with it further, and as a result I was the victim of a real media lynching.  All this affected me a great deal; after Geneva, my morale was very low, I had lost confidence..."
After declaring that he rejected Martin Fayulu's appointment as the sole candidate of the opposition Felix Tshisekedi, decided to try his luck separately, together with Vital Kamerhe, and we witnessed the welcome he received on his return to Kinshasa: one million people were clogging the road to the airport! "It really touched me, lifted my spirits... Then, when everyone saw the images of my campaign broadcast live (and not reconstructed, lifted, by a communication cell...), they could see how popular I was all over the country..."
Tshisekedi refuses to comment on his future relations with Martin Fayulu "let's wait first for the election boat, piloted by CENI, to arrive at the port. I hope that democracy will win and in that case, I will have my hand outstretched. I repeat, there will be no search for revenge..."  Even equanimity towards outgoing President Joseph Kabila: "It is obvious that he will be able to live quietly in his country, to go about his business, he has nothing to fear. One day we will even have to consider paying tribute to him for agreeing to withdraw.  Why, given his experience, not give him special diplomatic tasks, and make him an extraordinary ambassador for the Congo?"

“This blog first appeared in French and was translated into English by Steven Mines:


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