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Tshisekedi's New Tactics Bring Back Old Memories

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Congo News Agency - November 12, 2011

Etienne Tshisekedi
Etienne Tshisekedi at a rally in Kinshasa on August 9, 2011 | Enlarge
Still embroiled in a controversy over inflammatory statements he made during an interview on Sunday, Etienne Tshisekedi made new threats of violence during a speech in Kisangani on Friday, telling his supporters to rise up and attack the police if they feel they are being mistreated.

The calls to violence, made three weeks before presidential and parliamentary elections set to take place on Nov. 28, have surprised many Congolese who have admired Mr. Tshisekedi for his non-violent fight for democracy for nearly three decades.

They have also brought back memories of sometimes unpredictable behavior by the veteran opposition leader, who boycotted the first democratic elections held in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006, claiming they would be rigged.

Many Congolese still remember one particular episode in 1991, when Mr. Tshisekedi crossed over the mention “Mobutu Sese Seko, President of the Republic” while signing the papers naming him as Prime Minister at an oath ceremony attended by his old-time nemesis. After refusing to resign the papers, he was dismissed a few days later and criticized by other opponents to then President Mobutu’s regime for what they saw as a missed opportunity to govern over a minor detail.

Because of his occasionally eccentric behavior, some have questioned whether Mr. Tshisekedi is capable of leading the country or more comfortable as a “perennial opponent”, who always seems to shoot himself in the foot just as he gets closer to power.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende tried to remind voters of these episodes of “erratic” actions and statements on Monday by questioning Mr. Tshisekedi's sanity.

Although some hardcore members of the UDPS may heed these calls to violence, most opposition supporters are more likely to question, once again, Mr. Tshisekedi’s motives and tactics.

So far, the incendiary statements he made on Sunday seem to have fallen on deaf ears. Mr. Tshisekedi’s ultimatum to the government to release members of the UDPS by Tuesday or risk attacks on jails has come and passed without supporters following his dangerous advice.

Many voters are questioning the new tactics, especially after opposition parties failed to unite against President Joseph Kabila ahead of the elections, and with some pointing to Mr. Tshisekedi’s “stubbornness” and failure to compromise with other leading opposition parties as the main reasons.

ViveNov 27, 2011 12:23
Egypt freed themselves with violence, libya freed themselves with violence... South Africa freed themselves with violence... All he is saying to me is that we Congolese should rise up and fight for our freedom and not be silence by the government ..., if we are mistreated we should rise and fight back....
bismarkNov 18, 2011 02:37
To Jean, the premise of my argument in my reply to you is based on what you said which is"just because the article does not mention everything that was said doesn't make it biased or bad journalism" and that this was about facts. If the conclusion is flawed than there must be a problem with the premise .In any case your point is well taken. Thanks for the exchange.
jeanNov 18, 2011 12:15
To Bismark. The premise of your argument is wrong and it is leading you to a flawed conclusion. I fail to see why you seem to think that this article was meant to be a report of the speech in Kisangani. It is not a report of the speech. And, that's why you are wrong in saying that it is biased because it did not mention everything that was said in the 2 hours speech. The article, as the title says, is about the statements Tshisekedi made since Sunday being part of "new tactics" and reminding voters of other questionable moves he has made in the past. If you are honest, I hope you will agree that in that context, you cannot call the author biased for writing the article as they did. After re-reading the article, frankly I find it quite specific and on point. You are talking about human rights violations and putting the article in context, the author very clearly mentions that on Friday Tshisekedi told his supporters "to rise up and attack the police if they feel they are being mistreated." The author mentions that Tshisekedi has lead mostly a "non-violent fight for democracy", which is why it is strange that, as a presidential candidate, he would start calling for attacks on jails just before the elections! Common man! Let's not try to defend the indefensible here. Let’s be frank and admit it, these statements were a huge mistake. Blindly following a leader, even when he makes a mistake, can lead his followers on the wrong path. Tshisekedi is not a saint, when he makes a mistake people should not be criticized and called “biased” for pointing them out. A leader who only hears praise may end up thinking he is god and allowed to do whatever he wants. Thank God, these statements didn’t have "an effect" not because Tshisekedi was not dead serious when he made them and repeated them, but because he failed to convince even his own supporters that it was the right thing to do. My God! What was he thinking? What did he think he was going to accomplish? Was he praying for a bloodbath and then a report of the elections? Because, believe me, that's what was going to happen if his supporters had launched attacks on jails. If he wants to free the “dozen” prisoners he says are being held at Makala prison, all he has to do is follow his own advice and go back to Kinshasa and walk straight up to the prison and demand their release. I am sure he knows he will be Ok because he gave his followers that same advice. Otherwise, he was sending them to their deaths while campaigning comfortably in a jet and under police protection everywhere he lands.
bismarkNov 17, 2011 07:59
To Jean, thank you for addressing my posting. My posting, was not about the fact that Mr. Tshisekedi's statement in this article was factually correct or not as you put it. It was not about the accuracy of the statement. Your are the one framing the discussion along these lines, I have addressed a specific article by a specific journalist whose article I find biased. I did not make a wholesale statement painting this website's articles about the DR Congo with a particular color. I respectfully disagree with you when you say that "because this article does not mention everything that was said in the speech doesn't make biased". I will agree with the fact that you can not indeed mention everything said in a speech but a good journalist should provide the reader with a short and accurate account of the facts in a speech. We get the impression that the whole speech was about inciting people to violence. You are talking about facts, there were other facts in this speech, for example, the fact of telling Congolese to love their country the DR Congo and to love themselves and one another as Congolese, the fact of conquering fear in order to be free and use their human rights guaranteed in the constitution. By not mentioning these and other facts related to future of the DR Congo in this 2 hours speech and writing about only one fact, one is then choosing the fact that one wants the readers to read, it is thus biased. It is not accurate an account or summary of the 2 hours speech. I am sorry that statements (words) by someone in the heat of a political campaign and in a very specific context (killings, beatings, and jailings of the opposition) made you feel sick. You yourself said that these statements had no effects. I would like to know how you reacted to the report by the UN that there were 188 human right violations in two weeks of electoral campaigning in the DR Congo by the security forces against the opposition. I hope it made you feel even sicker. I did not post my previous intervention to challenge the accuracy of Mr. Tshisekedi's statement but to say that the reporting in this article was not balanced and thus biased. I did not have to mention the news agencies that you have listed because I was talking about a specific article by a specific journalist in a specific website, this does not diminish me as this is simply irrelevant to my point. The messenger did not make Mr. Tshisekedi say what he said, I agree with you. That should not prevent him from doing his job a reporter .His job is to give us the reader an accurate account and a summary of the facts of this speech. It is biased and it diminishes the messenger when only one fact out of many other facts in a speech is promoted.
jeanNov 17, 2011 12:12
To bismark, just because this article does not mention everything that was said in a the speech doesn't make it biased or bad journalism. Other news organisations reported on exactly these calls for violence. Are they all against Tshisekedi? Maybe he's the victim of a vast international conspiracy. The real question here is whether what is reported is factually correct or not. And the answer is a yes. You might not like the facts, but you cannot change the facts. Furthermore, reading Congo News Agency's website, it seems like they have written more articles over the years that are critical of the government. So, where is the bias? Should they only report on Tshisekedi when he fills stadiums in Kinshasa and not when he calls for violence? That would be what I'd call bad journalism. When a candidate declares himself president just before the elections and then calls for attacks on jails, that sounds pretty sick to me. Good thing his supporters know better. Why didn't Tshisekedi call for violence 2, 3, or 6 months ago? Was the government any better then? You also fail to mention that the UN, France, the ICC, Belgium and the United States condemned the calls for violence. Does that make your comment biased, or diminish you?. Hey, don't attack the messenger. They didn't make Tshisekedi say what he said.
bismarkNov 16, 2011 06:32
This analysis is a typical example of bad journalism with a bias and an intent to paint someone with an incredible track record of non violent fight against dictatorships in the DRCongo. This man spoke for 2 hrs in Kisangani about loving the congolese and loving the congo and other facts of history and his plans for the DRCongo future. The only thing that you chose to mention is this message to congolese designed to remove their fear and be bold in order to assert their constitutionaly guaranteed right to fight oppression. The UN has issued a report saying that there has been 188 cases of human right violations against the oppositons forces in the DRCongo by the security forces since the beginning of the electoral process. The statement by Mr Tshisekedi should be understood under this context. By the way did he give arms to anyone to attack the prisons. Please be balanced in your presentations. Having a bias in your reporting diminishes you as a journalist.
ericwetuNov 16, 2011 04:55
Please, what serious candidate calls for violence before elections? Did he realize that the government was dictatorial just now? Attacking jails is not going to win the elections. Eza kaka desespoir ya vieux nabiso. Bakosa biso te! Soyons serieux dit!
Radical changeNov 16, 2011 11:06
This article is irrelevant and isn't worth anything because those statments were made in regards to arbitrary actions by the DRC authorities.
kakyunguNov 14, 2011 11:20
please leave our president Tshisekedi alone. times are changing, now we need a real president to lead DRCongo. We know that you are trying now to intimidate us, but it is not going to be easy. KABILA AGAIN IN POWER equals 50000000 congolese refugees in your countries.
prosNov 14, 2011 09:44
I don't support violence but i think that we don't need to give more weight to simple words spoken by the opposition leader which were not even executed. If you are really connected with congolese realities, i think it's the actual government which commits atrocities, arresting people abusively and mistreating them for no good reason. I do believe firmly that change in the leadership of my country will also bring changes in people social life and will allow true democracy to take place. THANKS!

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