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Kabila sworn in

December 20, 2011

Congo's newly elected President Joseph Kabila was sworn in Tuesday, amid tight security in Kinshasa that included tanks on the streets. A defiant opposition leader is planning his own inauguration as president.

President Joseph Kabila Kabange of Congo addresses the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters.
President Kabila has promised to improve Congo's infrastructureImage: AP

President Joseph Kabila was officially sworn in as Congo's next president on Tuesday. He now has another five-year term at the helm of the Democratic Republic of Congo, sub-Saharan Africa's largest country.

Kinshasa was tense with tanks stationed at various points in the capital to prevent any protests. Meanwhile, opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi has vowed to go ahead with his own ceremony, in which he will also be inaugurated as president, at Kinshasa stadium on Friday.

Fears of unrest

Observers are warning there could be unrest if Tshisekedi sends his supporters out on to the streets. Human rights group Amnesty International said that Congolese security forces had been rounding up opposition supporters since the election. The group has called for an end to these arrests and for the release of the detainees.

During his inauguration speech, Kabila promised to focus his new mandate on improving the business climate and rebuilding the country's infrastructure. Congo has been involved in decades of conflict that has left the country at the bottom of the UN Human Development Index. This is a measure of average wealth, education and life expectancy.

The newly elected president, speaking after taking the oath, also mentioned that for the first time in Congo's history a presidential mandate had ended without a crisis. "You were asked to choose on the one hand between an illusory promise based on incendiary language, and on the other hand the consolidation of peace and stability," Kabila told his audience.

Regional leaders absent

Congolese riot police charge down a road to fire teargas at rioters on the outskirts of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Tension has been in mounting in Kinshasa.Image: PA/dpa

Heads of state from regional countries were notably absent, with only Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe in attendance. Most African countries sent their ministers; the United States, France and Britain were represented by their ambassadors.

Congo's elections on Novemeber 28 were the second presidential contest since the 1998-2003 civil war that claimed more than 5 million lives. The poll was marred by clashes between opposition supporters and security forces. It was also criticized by observer missions for massive irregularities.

Kabila became president after his father Laurent Kabila was assassinated in 2001, later he won a closely contested election organized by the United Nations in 2006. Since then, he has struggled to unite the country, especially in Congo's eastern provinces where a rebellion still continues. Despite its vast mineral resources, investors say it is one of the most challenging countries in which to do business.

Author: Chrispin Mwakideu (AP, Reuters)
Editor: Mark Caldwell / rm