Zimbabwe – Herald says country has ivory stocks worth $9bn

Herald/allAfrica

Photo: Daily News

Ivory (file photo).

Zvamaida Murwira — Zimbabwe is sitting on more than $9 billion worth of ivory, an amount that could turnaround the fortunes of the country should a ban on ivory trade be lifted, Parliament heard yesterday. Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said sadc was determined to lobby for the ban imposed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, an environmental global movement, to be lifted so that the region could unlock value from its natural resources.

Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri was responding to a question in the National Assembly during a question and answer session. “We have 96 tonnes of ivory and if we sell it, we will realise about $9,1 billion,” said Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri.

She said the European Union had remained adamant in seeking to maintain the ban despite the fact that the Western bloc did not have ivory, but as a sadc region they would continue to lobby the lifting of the ban in their CITES meetings.

She implored fellow legislators to lobby for the lifting of the ban each time they attend international meetings. Responding to a related question, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the $9 billion was able to liquidate the country’s debt and unlock several facilities.

“This is the paradox of Africa. There is a policy that did not come from Africa. This is food for thought for all of us because we are being stopped from disposing our ivory. “Africa is rich, but it has poor Africans. Our obligation as Africa is to interrogate why we are poor when we have these riches. I did not even know that we are sitting on $9 billion worth of ivory, even if it is $5 billion,” said Minister Chinamasa.

Responding to another question, Minister Chinamasa said the cash crisis that affected the country was a blessing in disguise in that it helped the Government to be innovative through use of plastic money.

“The cash crisis has been good in some respects. It was God-sent. It has given us an opportunity to move away from cash based situation. Even when a person wants to buy a house or a car he would move around with a briefcase with cash,” said Minister Chinamasa.

He said the $200 million facility from Afreximbank in which proposed bond notes would be introduced in October was not a loan, but a guarantee. Minister Chinamasa said Government would ensure that point of sale facilities were installed and activated in several businesses including Government ministries and departments.

South Africa – cracks in ANC’s ruling alliance could cost it dearly

The Conversation


Supporters of South Africa’s governing ANC during campaigning for upcoming local election. Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

South Africa has been governed by the African National Congress (ANC) since 1994. The party has operated in an alliance with two other players – the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), known as the Tripartite Alliance. But the arrangement has become increasingly fractious, so much so that it could, for the first time, badly damage the ANC’s performance in the upcoming local elections.

South Africa’s governing alliance should be understood as a product of history. The ANC and Communist Party formed a partnership in the late 1940s and the trade union body the South African Congress of Trade Unions (Sactu), the pre-cursor to the current union federation Cosatu, joined them in 1955 to form the Congress Alliance. They united to produce the Freedom Charter, viewed as the ANC-led alliance’s blueprint for an equal, nonracial and democratic society.

After the apartheid government unbanned black liberation movements and released political prisoners in the 1990s, the ANC and the largest domestic anti-apartheid organisation, the United Democratic Front, merged and Sactu was replaced by Cosatu in the alliance. In the negotiations on a new constitution for the country the alliance was represented by the ANC and SACP.

The new South Africa and the alliance

All alliance partners were represented in the first government that was formed after the 1994 elections. There was relative harmony at this point as all were united behind the Reconstruction and Development Programme.

The first serious policy fault-lines began to emerge two years later when the government adopted a new macroeconomic policy. The introduction of Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR), plus President Thabo Mbeki’s particular style of leadership, led to the marginalisation of the SACP and Cosatu. Their members nevertheless continued to vote for the ANC.

The SACP always regarded itself as the vanguard of the Tripartite Alliance, in the sense of providing the ideological and intellectual leadership. It was difficult to sustain this role during the Mbeki period. At the ANC’s National Conference in Polokwane in 2007, the new ANC President, Jacob Zuma, promised their rehabilitation into the mainstream.

The SACP’s contribution in elections is virtually impossible to quantify because of overlapping membership between the three alliance members, as well as the spillover effect it has on extended family members and acquaintances.

But an analysis of membership numbers and electoral support suggests that in the 2014 elections only about 10% of the ANC’s electoral support came from paid-up members of the alliance. That year more than 11 million South Africans voted for the ANC. At the time Cosatu had a membership of almost two million, the SACP 220,000 members (2015) while the ANC reached its apex in 2012 with more than a million members.

The fault-lines

There are at least three fault-lines in the alliance:

  • internal strains within the trade union federation, Cosatu;
  • tensions between the ANC and the SACP; and
  • fractiousness over the ANC’s succession process which will result in a new leader being elected in 2017.

The trade union federation suffered a major split when eight unions joined the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) to support the federation’s then general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi. Unions that remained in the federation included the National Union of Mineworkers, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union and the South African Democratic Teachers Union. Several national union leaders also remained in the federation, including its president S’dumo Dlamini. A major source of contention was around the unions’ independence in relation to political organisations.

The split was also partly an extension of the ANC’s internal power struggles between those supporting Zuma and those who are either independent or supporters of deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa.

There was also a regional component. Many union branches in the ANC’s traditional stronghold, the Eastern Cape, are pro-Vavi. In pro-Zuma provinces, such as KwaZulu-Natal, the Dlamini-Cosatu faction is prominent.

So who now has the dominant influence in the Tripartite Alliance? Traditionally the SACP assumed that role but in several recent ANC elections three provincial premiers (known as the Premier League) have come to the fore. The anti-Communist league has served as the pro-Zuma provincial lobby, effectively wanting to circumvent the alliance in favour of provincial caucusing in the ANC. SACP members are excluded from these processes.


ANC President Jacob Zuma on the campaign trail in Pretoria. Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

The SACP’s power has further been eroded by tensions that have emerged around its general secretary Blade Nzimande who is also the national Minister of Higher Education and Training. Attempts by student organisations to hijack the independent student movement in 2015 led to the ANC-aligned SA Students Congress (Sasco) criticising Nzimande for not implementing the ANC’s free education policy. The Young Communist League responded to Sasco by accusing their criticism of Nzimande as criticism of the SACP.

The 2017 national succession considerations also constitute a fault-line in the alliance. It has already developed into a contest between Zuma’s and Ramaphosa’s supporters. The Zuma group includes the ANC Youth and Women’s Leagues, the Dlamini-Cosatu group, the Umkhonto we Sizwe Veterans’ League and provinces linked to the Premier League. The Ramaphosa group includes provinces like Gauteng, Western Cape and Limpopo, most of the SACP and some unions in Cosatu.

The chances at the polls

These fault-lines and ANC factionalism are clearly not new developments. What might be new is that they can start to influence the voting patterns of alliance supporters.

For the 2016 local elections the SACP has publicly called its supporters to vote for the ANC. It is unpredictable what the members of Numsa, which enjoys enormous support among unionised workers in the motor industry, will do but it could have a significant impact on the results in the automotive centres like Tshwane (Rosslyn) and the Eastern Cape (Buffalo City and Nelson Mandela Bay). These metropolitan areas are generally regarded as the most contested points for the ANC. Most unionised workers in the huge industry, which includes Volkswagen, General Motors, BMW and Mercedes Benz, belong to Numsa.

It is likely that the ANC’s national average will for the first time decline to below 60%. An unknown factor is the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). It is the strongest in Gauteng, Limpopo and the North West. The EFF’s voter turnout is still unknown but it might follow the ANC’s pattern. With anything more than 15% in Gauteng it can play a key role in local coalition governments.

In the past the Tripartite Alliance provided the diversity of support for the ANC which secured its majority. Lately the fault-lines in the alliance reinforce much of the factionalism in the ANC, while the ANC’s internal power struggles are also duplicated in the alliance members. Many would argue that the alliance effectively came to an end with the split in Cosatu and the emergence of the so-called Premier League. As a result Cosatu and the ANC lost almost a million members in total between 2012 and 2015.

Zimbabwe – How long will Mugabe survive?

African Arguments

The war veterans and Emmerson Mnangagwa have been key pillars underpinning Mugabe’s 36-year-long rule. Without them, it could quickly disintegrate beyond repair.

 Credit: GCIS.

Last week, Zimbabwe’s war veterans’ association broke its silence as the group released a statement accusing President Robert Mugabe of “dictatorial tendencies” and “bankrupt leadership”.

For decades, the war veterans have been indispensable allies of Mugabe and have been central to the manner and maintenance of his 36-year-long rule. So it was a momentous moment when elements within the association declared:

“We are dismayed by the president’s tendency to indulge, in his usual vitriol against perceived enemies, including peaceful protesters, as well as war veterans, when the economy is on its knees.”

This kind of defiance is unprecedented and the government responded in similarly strong fashion, albeit after a few days hesitation. This Saturday, Zimbabwe’s defence ministercalled the move “treasonous” and tried to discredit the statement as the work of infiltrators, saying: “There is no war veteran who would be so disparaging about the president”.

Although it seems that the government is just trying to delegitimise the war veteran association’s statement, which seems to have clear backing from several people, Mugabe will hope that his defence minister is correct – because if he truly has lost the support of the war veterans, this could well be the beginning of a swift end.

Friends forever?

President Mugabe owes a lot to the war veterans, starting with his very ascendancy to the leadership of the ruling ZANU-PF. During the war for independence, Mugabe was an initially a relatively minor figure in the ZANU rebel movement’s leadership, until in 1975 when support from guerrilla fighters elevated him to the head of the militant ZANU faction. The close bond between Mugabe and his allies was forged, with long-running consequences.

Since Zimbabwe’s independence, the war veterans have been richly rewarded. They have been given senior positions in security, government and parastatals. Through their military positions, they have been the greatest recipients of state patronage, including in the lucrative diamond industry. And in 2014, Mugabe even created a new ministry just to cater for their welfare.

The veterans’ apparent decision to turn against their long-standing patron could be connected to the “unbridled corruption and downright mismanagement of the economy” that they note in the communiqué. And it could be related to the government’s treatment of “peaceful protesters” that they denounce.

But given the fact that the war veterans have been the main beneficiaries of Zimbabwe’s economic patronage system for decades and that they have – up to now – played a central role in repressing peaceful opposition to Mugabe’s rule, the likelihood is that there are other motivations at play.

At 92 years old, Mugabe is reaching the end of his rule, and despite his vow to run in the 2018 elections and beyond, there has been plenty talk of who will succeed him. First Lady Grace Mugabe has made clear indications that she hopes to be in the running to take over the leadership of ZANU-PF and has the support of certain factions within the party. But the war veterans are much more closely linked to her main rival, Emmerson Mnangagwa (aka The Crocodile).

Enter The Crocodile

Mnangagwa, who currently serves as vice-president, arguably has an even longer and stronger relationship with the war veterans than Mugabe. He played a key role in the war for liberation in the 1960s and 1970s. And since independence, he has used his various different ministerial positions overseeing state security, defence and home affairs, to cement his ties with powerful former fighters.

As a result, the war veterans see him as the person who – more than anyone else in ZANU-PF – can cater for their interests in a post-Mugabe era. And they possibly want Mnangagwa to take over as soon as possible in order to start preparing for the 2018 elections. Rather than a sense of solidarity with the popular #ThisFlag protests, figures within the group are more likely to be opportunistically picking this moment of widespread discontentment with the status quo to ratchet up pressure against Mugabe.

[See: Fed up, unafraid, and just getting started: What Zimbabwe’s #ThisFlag must do now]

The clearest indication of this was of course the recent statement, which broke a taboo by directly criticising and confronting the government. Meanwhile, they also endorsed a civil society stay away that the government regarded as illegal.

However, there may be other prongs to the strategy also being carried out in tandem. For instance, war veterans hold many of the most powerful positions within the security sector – such as in the police, army and intelligence – and it is notable that the president has issued warnings on two occasions recently against the security sector interfering in succession politics.

Furthermore, although Mnangagwa cannot speak out against his boss directly, he has directly contradicted the president a few times in the past few months, such as regarding the government’s flagship policies on indigenisation and land policy. He has also publicly called for warmer ties with international financial institutions and Europe at a time Mugabe was turning up his anti-Western rhetoric saying Zimbabwe does not need the “evil West”.

Beyond repair?

Since the war of liberation, Mugabe has enjoyed a close symbiotic relationship with Mnangagwa and the guerrilla fighters that became the war veterans.

In return for powerful positions and patronage, the war veterans have legitimised Mugabe’s rhetoric and politics, helped crush dissent, and been central in mobilising voters in electoral campaigns. Meanwhile, Mnangagwa has been Mugabe’s ruthless enforcer since 1980 as he has clamped down any potential challengers, overseeing thousands of deaths in the Gukurahundi massacres of the 1980s and scores of deaths in 2008 election violence.

The support of the war veterans and Mnangagwa have thus been indispensable pillars underpinning Mugabe’s system of rule. If the recent statement withdrawing support for him reflects the feelings of the larger group, it would not be an exaggeration to see this as the moment Mugabe’s reign began to disintegrate beyond repair.

Simukai Tinhu is a political analyst based in London and Harare

Zimbabwe – war veteran leader arrested after Mugabe criticism

Zimbabwean police said on Thursday they had arrested a top official of a war veterans association that called President Robert Mugabe a corrupt dictator, and human rights lawyers said the leader had begun a crackdown on his former allies.

Douglas Mahiya, information secretary of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), was detained on Wednesday over a statement the association issued last week attacking Mugabe’s rule. The government has labeled the statement “treasonous”.

“The police is investigating that case, and the arrest is in connection with that case,” police spokeswoman Charity Charamba told reporters. She declined to go into details or address speculation that the government planned to detain other war veterans.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights group said in a statement that the police had also arrested Victor Matemadanda, secretary-general of the war veterans association. There was no immediate confirmation of that arrest from the police.

“A clampdown on war veterans has commenced,” the lawyers said.

The association of former liberation war fighters, who have acted as a backbone of Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party since independence from Britain in 1980, last week accused the 92-year-old leader of running down the southern African state, eliminating rivals and being divisive in politics and manipulative in general.

On Wednesday, Mugabe called the veterans’ leaders “rebels” when he addressed a rally organized to demonstrate he still enjoyed huge support. He said: “those behind the statement would be punished for their crimes and of seeking regime change.”

Analysts say Mugabe is facing growing opposition even from his own party over his drive to seek re-election in 2018, when he will be 94. They also say he wants to impose his wife Grace as his eventual successor instead of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, long seen as the most likely candidate.

(Reporting by Cris Chinaka; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Nigeria – Senator’s role in hiding Abacha’s stolen money

Premium Times

Former Head of State, Sani Abacha

In his native Niger State, David Umaru, the All Progressives Congress senator representing Niger East Senatorial District is something of a folk hero.

He was a thorn under the skin of the immediate past administration of Governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu. He was an unwavering critic and soon gained the reputation of a whistleblower after be published series of advertorials in national newspapers exposing alleged corrupt practices by the Mu’azu Babangida administration.David Umaru

But one aspect of his life Mr Umaru would hesitate to see on the pages of newspapers is his dealings in notorious offshore tax havens and his role in laundering money for the country’s most notorious dictator ever, Sani Abacha.

Documents obtained by PREMIUM TIMES from the leaked database of now infamous Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca, revealed that Mr Umaru incorporated two shell companies in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), a notorious offshore tax haven, and in tiny South Pacific Ocean country, Niue Island.

The first company, Yorkshire Investment Limited was incorporated on April 27, 1998 with a registered address at No2 Commercial Centre Square, Alofi, the capital of the Niue Island.

The company was incorporated by International Trust Company (ITC), a Niue-based registering agent. In other to conceal the true ownership of the shell company, ITC provided two nominee directors for the company – Melvin Scales (Chairman) and Ramses Owens.

But Mr Umaru was clearly named the true and lawful attorney of the company.

The appointment of nominee directors for shell companies is a common practice in tax havens. The practice involved the appointment of directors only by title. They have no real authority over the company which they supposedly represent and can only act according to the directives of the owners of the firm or that of the person with a power of attorney.

“Know all men by these presents that on this 27th day of April, 1998, we, YORKSHIRE INVESTMENT LTD, whose registered office is situated at 2 Commercial Centre Square, Alofi, Niue (hereinafter referred to as “the Company “) have made, constituted and appointed, and by these presents do hereby make, constitute and appoint Mr. David UMARU (hereinafter referred to as “the Attorney”) as our true and lawful Attorney—in—fact for us and in our name, place and stead, to do, execute and perform all and every act or acts in law needful and necessary to be done in and about and in relation, but not limited to, the following matters:

“To negotiate, conclude, sign, execute and deliver on behalf of the Company such conveyances, transfers, assignments, deeds, documents, licenses, authorities or agreements as said Attorney shall consider necessary or proper to enable it to dispose of or acquire any assets in any part of the world (hereinafter referred to as “the assets”) on such terms as the Attorney shall consider proper or desirable in his absolute discretion,” the company’s article of incorporation read.

Not satisfied by the incorporation of his first shell company, five months later, exactly on September 15, 1998, Mr. Umaru again went shopping for his second shell company – Darweng Holding.

This time he decided to incorporate it in the British Virgin Islands. Just like he did with Yorkshire Investment Ltd, Mr Umaru appointed Benerly Hunt and Darlene Bayne as the company’s nominee directors while he retained a full power of attorney, which gave him absolute power to “negotiate, conclude, sign, execute and. deliver on behalf of the Company such conveyances, transfers, assignments, deeds, documents, licenses, authorities or agreements as said Attorney shall consider necessary or proper to enable it to dispose of or acquire any assets in any part of the world (hereinafter referred to as ‘the assets’).”

There is no evidence that Mr Umaru was no longer involved with the shell companies before he was elected a senator.

While not all owners or operators of such offshore entities are criminals, owning or maintaining interest in private companies while serving as public officials is against Nigerian laws.

Section 6(b) of the Code of Conduct Act says a public office holder shall not, “except where he is not employed on full‐time basis, engage or participate in the management or running of any private business, profession or trade.”

This revelation makes Mr Umaru the fourth serving Nigerian senator, after Senate President Bukola Saraki, his predecessor, David Mark, and Senator Andy Uba, who have been shown to own shell companies in offshore tax havens in clear violation of the country’s law.

Abacha’s bagman

It is unclear what businesses Mr. Umaru transacted with his offshore companies.

But shortly before he ran the companies, Mr. Umaru, who is currently the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Human Rights and Legal Matters, helped the Abacha family to move huge funds around.

An affidavit filed in November 18, 2013 by the US Department of Justice in a suit seeking the forfeiture of assets worth over $500 million stolen by Mr Abacha and hidden in various in bank accounts in various offshore jurisdiction, revealed how Mr Umaru acted as the official extortionist and money launderer of the Abachas.

As part of a ploy to extort money from foreign companies, the Abacha regime stopped paying foreign companies for contracts executed. One of sure companies was a French Civil Engineering firm, Dumez Group. The Abacha regime owed the company $469 million it refused to pay. In fact, even after the company nationalized and became Dumez Nigeria Limited, the junta still would not release the funds.

Enter Mr. Umaru. The senator, who was then a personal lawyer for the Abachas, approached the owners of Dumez and told them payment could be restarted if they agreed to a 25 per cent kickback of whatever they were paid to the Abacha family. The company agreed.

Mr Umaru then incorporated Allied Network Ltd for the sole purpose of collecting the kickbacks on behalf of the Abacha family. Listed as directors of the company were “Mohammed Sani” and “Abba Sani”, which were aliases of Sani Abacha and his brother, Abba Abacha.

In December 1996, Mr. Umaru opened an account on behalf of Allied Network Ltd at the Union Bancaire Privee (UBP) in Geneva, Switzerland, which was used to receive the payment of the kickbacks from Dumez and another account at the same bank which was used to receive the payment from the Nigerian government.

According to court papers, between August 16, 1996 and May 22, 1998, the Central Bank of Nigeria transferred $389,737,400 to Dumez account at UBP, Geneva. Of that amount $97,375,543 or 25 per cent of the original payment was transferred by Dumez to Allied Network Ltd account in the same bank.

In late 1997, Mohammed Abacha, the son of the late dictator, authorised the transfer of $11,114,983, being part of the kickback received from Dumez, to an account held by “Mohammed Sani” (Mohammed Sani is the preferred alias of the younger Mr Abacha). He used the alias repeatedly in most of the money laundering transactions involving his family, including the infamous Malabu Oil deal) at Midland Bank London (Now HSBC Bank Plc) with account number 38175076.

The money was later distributed into two accounts also held by Mohammed Sani in the US via a network of several financial institutions.

Mr Umaru did not answer repeated calls to his mobile number by this newspaper. He also did not reply text message sent to his phone for comment.

Nigeria – UN suspends aid in Borno State after convoy attack

Reuters

The United Nations has temporarily suspended aid deliveries in Nigeria’s northeastern state of Borno, the former stronghold of jihadists Boko Haram, after a humanitarian convoy was attacked, the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said on Thursday.

UNICEF said in a statement that unknown assailants attacked the convoy on Thursday as it returned to Maiduguri from delivering aid in Bama, injuring a UNICEF employee and an International Organisation for Migration contractor.

“The United Nations has temporarily suspended humanitarian assistance missions pending review of the security situation,” it said.

Nigerian army spokesman Sani Usman said troops were escorting the humanitarian convoy when it was attacked by “suspected remnants of Boko Haram” and that two soldiers and three civilians were wounded.

Nearly a quarter of a million children in Borno suffer from life-threatening malnourishment and around one in five will die if they do not receive treatment, UNICEF said earlier this month.

Medecins Sans Frontieres said on Wednesday that severely malnourished children were dying in large numbers in northeast Nigeria, where food supplies are close to running out.

By 2014, Boko Haram controlled territory nearly the size of Belgium in northeast Nigeria until most of it was recaptured last year by the Nigerian army and troops from neighboring countries.

More than 15,000 people have been killed and at least 2 million displaced by Boko Haram’s insurgency in Nigeria. The group has carried out suicide bombings in northeast Nigeria and neighboring Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols at the United Nations and Lanre Ola in Maiduguri; editing by Richard Chang and Dan Grebler)

DR Congo – Tshisekedi returns after medical treatment

Reuters

Hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets of the Congolese capital Kinshasa on Wednesday to welcome home opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi after a nearly two-year stay overseas for medical treatment.

Tshisekedi’s return to delirious crowds flashing victory signs comes at a crucial moment in Democratic Republic of Congo, as a near-certain delay to a presidential election slated for November risks triggering violence in the chronically unstable central African nation.

President Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001, is required by term limits to step down this year, but opponents accuse him of delaying the Nov. 27 poll to cling to power. The government says logistical and budgetary constraints make it unrealistic to hold the election on time.

Kabila’s opponents hope that Tshisekedi’s return can rally people to the streets after opposition protests over the last year failed to attract large turnouts.

Some supporters carried banners with Tshisekedi’s picture calling him president of the republic.

“He is the hope of all people,” said Eric Ilunga, a 31-year-old businessman who awaited Tshisekedi’s arrival outside Kinshasa’s main airport.

The 83-year-old politician, who left Congo in August 2014 for unspecified medical treatment in Brussels, has been visibly frail in public appearances over the last two years and leaned on his son as he slowly descended the stairs of a private plane.

A girl in a white dress greeted him with a bouquet of flowers while police linked arms outside the airport to keep the crowd from rushing in. People looked on from rooftops and along the highway on the 17 km (11 mile) journey to his home.

Tshisekedi, who formed Congo’s first organised opposition platform, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), under longtime autocrat Mobutu Sese Seko in 1982, was runner-up in Kabila’s 2011 re-election, a vote observers said was marred by massive fraud.

He is scheduled to speak at an opposition rally on Sunday.

Allies had said he would lead the opposition in a national dialogue called for by Kabila expected to begin next month.

On Sunday, however, Tshisekedi said the UDPS and allied parties would not participate in a dialogue led by the African Union’s designated facilitator, former Togolese prime minister Edem Kodjo, whom they accuse of bias.

Though other opposition leaders have gained prominence during Tshisekedi’s time abroad, he remains by far the most popular opposition figure despite concerns over his health.

“The return of Tshisekedi represents the beginning of the departure of Kabila,” said Martin Fayulu, another opposition leader.

(Editing by Nellie Peyton and Robin Pomeroy)

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