Etienne Tshisekedi’s body finally in DRC two years after death

Etienne TshisekediThe late Etienne Tshisekedi

The body of Democratic Republic of Congo veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi is now lying in state in his home country.

This is after a two years wait in a Belgium morgue.

Etienne Tshisekedi, the father of DRC president Felix Tshisekedi died in Belgium on 1st February 2017 but his body could not be flown home over his tiff with the then President Joseph Kabila.

He died at the age of 84.

His body was received by thousands of his supporters at the Martyrs’ Stadium in Kinshasa on Friday afternoon.

Supporters of Etienne Tshisekedi screamed and blew whistles in the 80,000-capacity arena. The presidents of Rwanda and Angola were among the dignitaries present.

Etienne was the leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDSP).

For his supporters, Tshisekedi coming home represents a victory over the former government.

The body was flown in a smaller private jet together with 10 members of his family, leaving dozens of others stranded in Belgium.

Pallbearers prepare to carry the flag-draped coffin containing the body of Etienne Tshisekedi, opposition figurehead who died in Belgium two years ago, at the Ndjili international airport in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo May 30, 2019. REUTERS/Kenny Katombe

Moss Lenga, spokesperson for the Tshisekedi funeral committee, said religious leaders would inspect the body to confirm it was Etienne Tshisekedi.

A state funeral will take place on Saturday in the town of Nsele, east of Kinshasa. Six African heads of state are expected to attend, including those of Angola, Rwanda and Congo-Brazzaville.

Tshisekedi spent decades in politics but failed in several attempts to become president.

According to the BBC, Tshisekedi served as interior minister in the regime of Mobutu Sese Seko, before joining the political opposition.

After serving time in prison, he founded the UDPS in 1982 and was appointed several as prime minister by Mobutu, though the two frequently clashed.

In 1997, Mobutu was ousted as leader in a rebellion led by Joseph Kabila’s father, Laurent.

Tshisekedi became an opponent of the new regime, and of Joseph Kabila after Laurent Kabila was assassinated in 2001.

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