Congo: Etienne tshisekedi returns home for proper burial

etienne tshisekedi congo

The body of Etienne Tshisekedi, historical figure of the Congo and father of the current president Félix Tshisekedi, left this Thursday Brussels for Kinshasa where the former opponent and prime minister is to be buried Saturday, more than two years after his death.

After a few hours late, the plane bringing the body of Stephen Tshisekedi to the Democratic Republic of Congo finally took off from Brussels. The Congolese presidency announced that the plane departed at 11:25, Kinshasa time (12:25 Brussels time).

The Congolese authorities had to find an alternative in the night, because the plane, which was supposed to leave Brussels for Kinshasa last night, never arrived at the Brussels airport. It was finally a private plane from the company Global Jet that took off with on board the body of Stephen Tshisekedi and 19 passengers. The alternative plane is much smaller than the one originally booked, which was to carry more than 200 people.

The arrival time is still uncertain: 18:45 in Kinshasa, according to the presidency, between 19h and 22h, according to other sources. A scenario that should save most of the stages planned for this tribute, including a popular recollection Friday at the Martyrs Stadium and official tributes, then the burial scheduled Saturday.

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Uncertainty remains on the stage of Limete scheduled this Thursday, in theory the procession must stop at the headquarters of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) and the historic residence of Étienne Tshisekedi. Everything will depend on the time of arrival. It is this night, according to the presidency, that a solution has been found after long hours of uncertainty. This source states that it is an African country “friend of Congo” who finally made this aircraft available, without specifying which one. Diplomatic sources mention Togo. Gabon was also contacted.

This delay for an event – planned for ten days – remains difficult to explain. The organizing committee said tonight that it was not its fault, nor that of the Belgian authorities who, themselves, claim to have taken no part in the organization.

The Belgian authorities wish to point out that they have nothing to do with it. It was the Congolese authorities who were responsible for chartering the flight. And it is a problem in the payment of the bill that would have been problematic. According to a source in the Congolese presidency, the owner of the plane, whose name has not been made public, has decided to cancel, not to make available his plane because of a delay in payment.

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The former opponent and former Prime Minister Étienne Tshisekedi died at the age of 84 on February 1st, 2017 in Brussels where he went for treatment. His remains had been resting in a funeral parlor in the Belgian capital, for lack of agreement between his family and the former regime of President Joseph Kabila on the repatriation and organization of his funeral. The situation has cleared up with the inauguration on January 24 of his son Felix, proclaimed winner of the presidential election on December 30.

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Eric Thomas

Eric, originally from Nigeria, currently resides in Florida and covers a wide range of topics for The talking Democrat.