Raila Odinga meets DRC’s President Tshisekedi in Nairobi

Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga meets new DRC President Felix Tshisekedi. PHOTO | COURTESY

Opposition leader Raila Odinga on Wednesday met the newly elected President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Felix Tshisekedi who is on a two-day visit to Kenya.

According to a statement sent to newsrooms by Mr. Odinga’s spokesperson, the ODM Party leader congratulated President Tshisekedi on his election and for the first peaceful transfer of power DRC in close to 60 years.

“He appealed to the President to bring his country together by embracing players from diverse backgrounds,” read the statement.

“He particularly appealed to the President not to allow cracks that could be exploited by foreign interests as happed in the first independence government.”

The two continental leaders also reportedly discussed how to deepen ties between Kenya and the DRC.

President Tshisekedi’s visit to Kenya for bilateral talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta comes barely 14 days after his swearing in. President Kenyatta, who was accompanied by Mr. Odinga, was the only foreign Head of State present during President Tshisekedi swearing in.

His visit comes 14 days after he was sworn in as President. The opposition leader turned Head of State called for national reconciliation after succeeding Joseph Kabila.

This was DRC’s first transfer of power via an election in 59 years of independence. 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.

President Kenyatta was accompanied by Raila Odinga (AU special envoy), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper Party leader), Moses Cheboi (National Assembly Deputy Speaker) and  Irungu Kangata (Murang’a Senator).

Others were Junet Mohamed (Suna East MP), Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay MP), Amos Wako (Busia Senator), Ledama Olekina (Narok Senator) and Mr Odinga’s spokesperson Dennis Onyango.

The pageantry of the ceremony was briefly interrupted when Tshisekedi was taken ill during his inaugural address and had to sit down. But he returned to the podium 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.

Tshisekedi’s victory in the Dec. 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.

His spokesman later told Reuters that his bulletproof vest had been too tight. Tshisekedi, wearing a blue suit and dark glasses, took the oath of office before his supporters, government officials and foreign ambassadors.