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UN chief says worried by DR Congo tensions

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres (photo by AFP)

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has sounded a warning about tension in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where President Felix Tshisekedi is locked in a crisis with supporters of his predecessor, Joseph Kabila.

In a report to the Security Council on Monday, Guterres said he was "concerned by the political tensions within the (DRC's) ruling coalition."

These "could undermine the fragile political stability, reverse the gains made since the 2018 elections and the resulting peaceful transfer of power, as well as divert efforts to address security challenges" in the east of the vast country, he warned.

The report, obtained by AFP on Wednesday, coincided with a video circulating on social media in which the head of the elite Republican Guard – which is tasked with protecting Tshisekedi – is seen ordering his men "not to plot against the government."

The upper ranks of the armed forces are dominated by officers appointed by Kabila, who stepped down in early 2019 after 18 years in power.

His handover marked the DRC's first peaceful transition since independence from Belgium in 1960.

But Tshisekedi's manifesto of reform has been crimped by the need to work within the constrictions of a coalition dominated by Kabila loyalists.

Their Common Front for the Congo (FCC) has an overwhelming majority in parliament.

Problems erupted into the open this year, forcing Tshisekedi to launch consultations last month on issues such as national security, management of state assets, the independence of the judiciary and the organization of elections.

He is preparing to announce his decisions after the consultations.

Late Tuesday, Tshisekedi held "nearly four hours" of talks with senior members of the armed forces and police, his office said on Wednesday.

They "gave an assurance about your supreme authority -- no campaign of sedition, of any kind, will shake our civil commitment and our determination to remain apolitical... and (faithful) to the republic," the army's spokesman, General Leon Kasonga, said in a video released by the presidency.

Leaders in the president's own party, the UDPS, have been urging Tshisekedi to walk away from an unpublished pact that he forged with Kabila in January 2019.

In a video that began circulating on social media on Monday, the head of the Republican Guard, Major-General Christian Tshiwewe, told his troops: "I urge you not to plot against the government by taking part in clandestine meetings."

"Remain patriots, imbued by loyalty (and) allegiance to the head of state," he said.

(Source: AFP)

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