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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

DRC: Tshisekedi returns, but refuses to take part in new government

KINSHASA, 29 September 2003 (IRIN) - Veteran opposition politician Etienne Tshisekedi returned to Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), on Sunday after a self-imposed two-year exile spent largely in South Africa, but said he would not take part in the country's recently-inaugurated two-year transitional government.

"I come with a message for Congolese of all political backgrounds, a message of love, a message of reconciliation, a message of peace, a message of unity," Tshisekedi, leader of the Union pour la democratie et le progres social (UDPS), told reporters upon his arrival.

He said his focus would now be on national elections due to be organised within the next two years, rather than on trying to have his party incorporated into the national power-sharing government.

"The UDPS does not need to be a part of the transitional institutions only to create additional problems for no reason," he said. "We have a mission to prepare the people for elections, and the UDPS has taken its place where it belongs, alongside the people. We can not let ourselves be distracted."

Although Tshisekedi and his party took part in the inter-Congolese dialogue that led to the signing of a national peace accord, ostensibly ending over four years of war in the Congo, they have refused to take part in the transitional national government, claiming fraud in the selection of a vice-president from the unarmed political opposition and in the selection of other members of the transitional government.

Tshisekedi left Kinshasa in November 2000 after several disagreements with the government of then-President Laurent-Desire Kabila. However, in June 2003, he visited eastern DRC, a region controlled by the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD-Goma) former rebel movement - now party to the power-sharing government - with whom his UDPS had formed an alliance.

Although a longtime nemesis of former President Mobutu Sese Seko, Tshisekedi served as Mobutu's prime minister several times during a period that the Congo was known as Zaire.

Theme(s): (IRIN) Governance

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