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President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo arrives in Washington D.C. Updated for 2021

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Updated: February 25, 2021

This report would be expanded to include what some Congolese have charged their President to focus on and the faces of everyone who was there to welcome him to the American capital.


The newly elected president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Felix Antoine Tshisekedi, arrived at the Willard Intercontinental hotel in Washington D.C. at 1.36 a.m. on Wednesday, however the crowd of about 220 people that had gathered there for several hours to welcome him did not appear exhausted by the wait or impatient.

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President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo arrives the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington DC on Wednesday April 3, 2019. Photo: Emmanuel Ikodor, TODAY NEWS AFRICA

People came from all walks of life to welcome the new leader they believed would tackle gargantuan corruption in the country, deal with decades-long insecurity and rape cases, especially in the eastern part of the Congo, and unite a nation of over 80 million people in a country as vast as two third of Western Europe.

Congolese welcoming President Felix Tshisekedi at the Willard International Hotel in Washington DC on Wednesday morning. Photo: Simon Ateba, TODAY NEWS AFRICA.

With the large crowd at the Willard hotel’s lobby and entrance, the secret service had to call for a back up of battle-ready policemen to control the surging but peaceful crowd.

Mr Tshisekedi, who was expected to come in through one entrance of the hotel, finally took the other entrance on the recommendation of the secret service.

Security was tight as Congolese welcome their President to Washington DC. Video: Simon Ateba, TODAY NEWS AFRICA

The Congolese leader was ushered into an elevator leading to his hotel room immediately after he arrived. He made no comment and only briefly acknowledged greetings from the crowd.

Some of his countrymen felt slightly disappointed that they could not see him for more than five or ten seconds while others said he was probably exhausted from a long trip from West Africa to the American capital.

President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo arrives the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington DC on Wednesday April 3, 2019. Photo: Emmanuel Ikodor, TODAY NEWS AFRICA

Marie-Stella Mbala Heiser was one of those who stayed up late to welcome President Tshisekedi on his first trip to the United States since he was sworn in late January.

And although a bit disappointed she could not properly see Mr Tshisekedi, greet or chat with him, she said she had high hopes he was the man Congo needed at the moment.

Marie-Stella Mbala Heiser speaks with TODAY NEWS AFRICA’s Simon Ateba on the future of Congo. Video: Emmanuel Ikodor, TODAY NEWS AFRICA

It was not clear what the full agenda of the Congolese President would be in Washington, D.C. and whether he would meet with President Donald Trump or Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as embassy officials were too busy last night trying to welcome him.

President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo arrives the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington DC on Wednesday April 3, 2019. Photo: Emmanuel Ikodor, TODAY NEWS AFRICA

It is the Congolese leader’s first trip to the United States since he took over in January 2019 from Joseph Kabila. Mr Kabila ruled the central African nation for 18 years between 2001 and 2019.

President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo arrives the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington DC on Wednesday April 3, 2019. Photo: Emmanuel Ikodor, TODAY NEWS AFRICA

On Saturday, April 6, President Tshisekedi will meet with the Congolese diaspora in the United States to discuss the “aftermath of the Congolese elections and immediate actions to be taken for the well-being of the Congolese people,” officials from the U.S branch of his political party, Union for Democracy and Social Progress, UDSP, said.

On Saturday, April 6, President Tshisekedi will meet with the Congolese diaspora in the United States

To hold in Washington DC, the gathering will equally seek to galvanize the diaspora to engage more and support the president in his efforts to develop the DRC.

President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo arrives the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington DC on Wednesday April 3, 2019. Photo: Emmanuel Ikodor, TODAY NEWS AFRICA

Felix Tshisekedi is the son of veteran DRC opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, who served thrice as the country’s Premier. He took over his father’s UDSP political party after the 84-year-old popular opposition leader passed on in 2017.

President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo arrives the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington DC on Wednesday April 3, 2019. Photo: Emmanuel Ikodor, TODAY NEWS AFRICA

Underrated and described as a “political amateur”, unfit to step in his father’s shoes, Felix Tshisekedi successfully led a coalition that won the presidential election organized by Kabila, and was sworn in as president of the Democratic Republic of Congo in a peaceful transition.

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Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba covers the White House, the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Simon can be reached on simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com

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