Learn more about Étienne Tshisekedi
Étienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba is the leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), a political party in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He has also been Prime Minister of the country (then Zaire) on three separate occasions.
Tshisekedi was born in Luluabourg (now Kananga), Kasai-Occidental on December 14, 1932. He obtained a diploma in 1961 at the Lovanium University School of Law in Leopoldville (now Kinshasa). He served in Mobutu's government in various positions throughout the late 1960s and 1970s but in 1979 began to protest its descent into dictatorship and corruption. In 1980 he was removed from government and thrown in prison for his criticism. Ever since he has been thrown in and out of prison numerous times by both Mobutu's government and Laurent Kabila's.
On February 15, 1982 he co-founded the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) which he remains head of. The party remains popular with its main goal being a non-violent change to democratic rule.
With the country in economic turmoil in the early 1990s, in part due to Mobutu's loss of Western support after the Cold War, Mobutu promised a transition to democracy. During this time, Tshisekedi was appointed as Prime Minister on three separate occasions. The first lasted only one month (September 29, 1991 to November 1, 1991), the second only 7 months (August 15, 1992 to March 18, 1993). Both times, Tshisekedi complained that he was prevented from functioning properly by Mobutu. The third term, while Laurent Kabila's forces were marching on Kinshasa, lasted only a week (April 2, 1997 to April 9, 1997) and was again ended by Mobutu's lack of cooperation. A month later Laurent Kabila overthrew Mobutu (see First Congo War). During this time he attempted to negotiate a peace between the government and the rebels. Tshisekedi also criticized Kabila as being a dictator.
Recently he has criticized the current transitional government, which Tshisekedi is not involved in, for its lack of progress and for its decision to delay promised elections. However, in January 2006 he officially ended his two-year boycott of the transitional government, and initially said that he would participate in the national elections scheduled for 29 April, 2006, as well as the preceding polls in March. The elections were postponed to 30 July, 2006, and Tshisekedi demanded that the voter registration operations' stations be partially reopened, in order for his militants - who had boycotted the registration on his orders - to get a chance to receive election ID cards, and vote. The Independent Electoral Commission denied this request, on account that it was too late in the process. Tshisekedi then reverted to his previous position of boycotting the elections.
In the week leading to the polls, Tshisekedi's numerous militants protested against the polls, by taking-down and destroying all the electoral banners they could reach in Kinshasa, and other cities, prompting intervention by riot police. Many independent observers still consider Tshisekedi the most popular politician in the Congo. At times, he has been called the Mandela of Congo.
Jean Nguza Karl-I-Bond
Kengo Wa Dondo
|Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo|
September 29, 1991 - November 1, 1991
August 15, 1992 - March 18, 1993
April 2, 1997 - April 9, 1997
Bernardin Mungul Diaka