DR Congo marks independence day under political tensions

Tuesday June 30 2020

DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi. PHOTO | AFP


The Democratic Republic of Congo Tuesday marks 60 years since its independence from Belgium in 1960.

This year’s celebration, however, will not feature pomp and grand military parade as President Félix Tshisekedi dictated the funds be directed in the fight against Covid-19.

In a speech broadcast late Monday on state television Tshisekedi said the funds reserved for the festivities would be used to pay and motivate the soldiers involved in the pacification effort in the eastern part of the country and the health personnel engaged in the fight against Covid-19.

He also announced that Joseph Kasavubu—Congolese first independent president—had been elevated to the rank of national hero and a town will be named after him.

The town, Lumumbaville, in the province of Sankuru, will “honour and pay tribute to the former Prime Minister”, assassinated in 1961 in Haut-Katanga.

“It is right to raise Joseph Kasavubu, long forgotten, to the deserved rank of national hero," said Tshisekedi during his 45-minute-long speech.


DR Congo now has three national heroes: Patrice Emery Lumumba, Laurent-Désiré Kabila and Joseph Kasavubu.

In a context of political crisis—in connection with contested justice reforms—President Tshisekedi rejected proposed changes lamenting the Congolese political class as "versatile".

He further promised to be uncompromising in the fight against corruption.

As of Monday, DR Congo had recorded 6,939 Coivd-19 cases and 1,050 recoveries. Death toll stands at 167.

Last week, the country declared and end of Ebola outbreak in the east, the second deadliest in history that claimed more than 2,200 people.