Belgian PM invited to funeral of 'father of Congolese democracy'

Belgian PM invited to funeral of 'father of Congolese democracy'

The authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo indicated on Thursday their intention to invite Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel to the funeral of Etienne Tshisekedi, the father of current Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi, to be held in Kinshasa from Thursday to Saturday next. “The director of the cabinet of the President of the Republic has confirmed to me that an invitation will be sent to President Macron and Prime Minister Charles Michel,” the General Coordinator of the Organising Committee for the Funeral, Charles Lundula, told AFP.

Lundula gave the press details of the programme for the funeral of ex-Prime Minister Etienne Tshisekedi. The former opposition leader died in Brussels on 1 February 2017, but his body was not repatriated since an agreement was not reached with the former Kabila regime.

"We are celebrating the father of Congolese democracy,” Lundula said in a press release. “This is not a funeral ceremony, but the commemoration and celebration of the victory of democracy, as well as the realisation of the dream of Etienne Tshisekedi, now incarnated by the advent of his son at the pinnacle of the State.”

Étienne Tshisekedi’s remains are scheduled to arrive on the morning of Thursday 30 May at Ndjili Airport, where they will be received by his son, who is the current head of State, and the various authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The procession will then drive through Kinshasa throughout the day, passing by the residence of the late Prime Minister and his family in Limete, before ending at the morgue of the Hospital of the Cinquantenaire.

On Friday, 31 May, the body will be transported in a procession to the Stade des Martyrs for a mass and wake, open to the public.

On Saturday, an official ceremony and mass will be celebrated at the same stadium, followed by a procession that will end at the inhumation site at the N’Sele Funeral Monument.

A former minister under Dictator Sese Seko Mobutu in the 1960s, Etienne Tshisekedi moved over to the opposition, founding the Union pour la Démocratie et le Progrès Social (UDPS) in 1982. He was thrice Prime Minister in the 1990s, before opposing the regimes of Kabila father and son.

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