The first of his challenges was to reveal himself alone to his compatriots, the day after the death of his father, the historic opposition leader in DRC, Etienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba, who passed away on February 1, 2017 in Belgium.
Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo has overcomed this obstacle by moving from Deputy National Secretary in charge of the Union for Development and Social Progress (UDPS-opposition) to President of the political party, created and led by his father.
To succeed his father as leader of the party, Etienne, the son, succeeded in obtaining the party’s support by a large majority at a congress held in March 2018.
He was at the same congress nominated as the UDPS candidate for the presidential elections of December 2018.
He captured international attention when he renounced his signature, after affixing it to the so-called Geneva Agreement in Switzerland.
Under the terms of the agreement signed on November 13, Tshisekédi, a prospective “common candidate” of the opposition in the forthcoming presidential elections, was to bow out to Martin Fayulu Madidi, an ex-oil tycoon turned opposition leader.
Using the pretext of his party’s disagreement with the said accord, he joined forces with Vital Kamhere, another opponent who also renounced the same Geneva agreement, and created on 23 November in Kenya an electoral platform called Cape Town for Change (CACH).
It was under this banner that he won the presidential election of December 30, 2018 with 38.57 percent of the votes, ahead of Fayulu’s 34.8 percent and the candidate of the presidential majority, Ramadany Shadari, who got 23.8 percent of the vote.
These figures, which were provisionally provided by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), were strongly contested at both the national and international levels, before the Constitutional Court in DRC definitively confirmed them.
Married and a father of five, Félix Tshisékédi’s academic credentials were even scrutinized by his opponents, some of whom questioned his university degrees.
While he won a great victory over his opponents by becoming the 5th president of independent Congo, he still faces equally difficult challenges.
The first of these challenges, once invested, will be to form a government of national unity or co-habitation, because the National Assembly following the legislative elections of December 30 is largely dominated by supporters of the outgoing president, Joseph Kabila Kabila.
Certainly, the honeymoon period is likely to be very short for the son who has managed to free himself from the father’s shadow, because he will have to quickly address the social demands of a population that is almost in need of everything.