UDPS congress begins in Kinshasa

Etienne Tshisekedi addressed his party’s national congress yesterday in Kinshasa. A full 5,000 delegates are reportedly attending from around the Congo and including members of the diaspora – an impressive mobilization. Tshisekedi called for unity within his party, which has suffered numerous defections and internal splits over the years. In this light, the fact that this is the first national congress of the party since its founding in 1982 has prompted criticism.

In attendance were also potential rivals in the 2011 presidential campaign – Vital Kamerhe, Azarias Ruberwa and Ne Muanda Nsemi. You can listed to their reactions here. It looks like Tshisekedi is already getting the sympathy (and perhaps endorsement?) of Bundu dia Kongo’s leader Muanda Nsemi, which would be important for votes in Bas-Congo.

Strikingly, none of the anglophone media have covered Tshisekedi’s arrival or the congress so far; a story about a South African kayaker killed by a crocodile has instead made the press.

This is the depiction of the caricaturist Kash Tembo of Kabila’s reaction to how Tshisekedi’s arrival has dominated the local landscape. For those interested, you can find Kabila’s state of the nation address here.