New DRC President Felix Tshisekedi's speech has appealed for peace and tolerance in the long-turbulent country after the disputed December 30 election.

DRC's President Felix Tshisekedi is sworn in in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, January 24, 2019.
DRC's President Felix Tshisekedi is sworn in in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, January 24, 2019. (AP)

Opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi was sworn in on Thursday as Democratic Republic of the Congo's president, succeeding Joseph Kabila in the vast central African country's first transfer of power through an election in 59 years of independence.

Tshisekedi was taken ill during his inaugural address but returned to the stage moments after a brief pause, saying he was exhausted by the election and the emotion of the moment.

His spokesman later told Reuters that his bulletproof vest had been too tight and he had since removed it.

Tshisekedi's victory in the December 30 election was marred by accusations he struck a backroom deal with the outgoing president to deny victory to another opposition candidate. Kabila and Tshisekedi's camps reject those allegations.

Tshisekedi, wearing a blue suit and dark glasses, took the oath of office before a crowd of thousands of cheering supporters, government officials and foreign ambassadors.

TRT World speaks with Stephanie Wolters, a senior research fellow on Central Africa at the Institute for Security Studies.

However, in a sign of lingering doubts about the vote's credibility, Kenya's Uhuru Kenyatta was the only foreign head of state present.

Still, the imagery of one leader handing off the presidency to another as Kabila wrapped the presidential sash around his successor was striking in a country where previous power transfers have resulted only from coups, assassination or rebellion.

'Reconciled Congo'

In his inaugural address, Tshisekedi called for "a reconciled Congo" following the contentious election that saw him narrowly defeat another opposition leader, Martin Fayulu, and Kabila's hand-picked successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary.

"We want to build a strong Congo, turned toward its development in peace and security. A Congo for all, in which everyone has a place," he said.

TRT World's Usman Lone reports.

Tshisekedi said he soon will release all political prisoners in the country.

Fayulu said he won the election by a landslide, a claim backed by Congo's Catholic Church, which deployed 40,000 observers to the polls.

However, many African and Western countries, wary that a dispute could reignite unrest in the volatile central African country, decided to recognise Tshisekedi after Congo's highest court dismissed Fayulu's fraud complaints. 

TRT World 's Adesewa Josh has more. 

Here is a recap on DRC's disputed presidential election.

Two-year delay

After being postponed three times, the elections go ahead on December 30, 2018 to choose a successor to President Joseph Kabila.

His term ran out in late 2016 and his extended stay in power had resulted in demonstrations and criticism.

The election is held in relative calm, although clashes claim four lives in the volatile eastern South-Kivu province.

Voting is delayed until March 2019 in two regions affected by unrest and Ebola.


On December 31, the influential Catholic bishops conference says its observers had signalled anomalies in the vote count.

On January 2, with tensions growing, Kinshasa pulls the accreditation of a French radio journalist and halts broadcasts of the popular Radio France Internationale (RFI).

Surprise result 

After a long delay the electoral commission issues provisional results in the early hours of January 10, declaring that opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi won with 38.57 percent.

Pre-vote favourite, the opposition's Martin Fayulu, took 34.8 percent, it says.

Kabila's chosen successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, has 23.8 percent.

Fayulu immediately denounces an "electoral coup."

Results disputed 

France queries the result and the United States calls for "clarification." The Catholic Church says it does not tally with its own data.

On January 11, a curfew is declared in Kikwit, Fayulu's bastion in the west, where at least nine people are killed in protests.

Towards co-habitation 

Legislative election results are announced on January 12, giving pro-Kabila parties a majority in the national assembly.

It means that Tshisekedi's prime minister will come from Kabila's camp.

Court challenge

Fayulu lodges an appeal on January 12 in the Constitutional Court against the presidential vote results.

The following day the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional bloc urges a recount.

On January 15, documents leaked to foreign media — including the Financial Times, TV5 Monde and RFI — back Fayulu's claim to be the winner.

Tshisekedi confirmed 

On January 18, the DRC rebukes the African Union for expressing "serious doubts" over the provisional result, saying the Constitutional Court — considering Fayulu's appeal — is impartial.

The court on January 20 dismisses the appeal and confirms Tshisekedi as winner.

Fayulu calls on the international community to reject Tshisekedi's victory.

Doubts, recognition

The same day SADC congratulates Tshisekedi and calls for a peaceful handover of power. 

And Kabila urged the nation to "massively" support the incoming leader.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies