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Ruto Congratulates DRC’s President for Re-election

Ruto Congratulates DRC’s President for Re-election
Kenyan President William Ruto receiving his Congolese counterpart, Felix Tshisekedi in Nairobi on September 12, 2022, ahead of Ruto's inauguration as Kenyan leader

The Kenyan leader William Ruto is extending an olive branch to his Congolese counterpart Felix Tshisekedi following a recent diplomatic spat between Nairobi and Kinshasa.

Ruto, in a congratulatory message to Tshisekedi on his reelection, expressed hope for improved relations between the two nations.

The tensions emerged after Kinshasa recalled its Nairobi envoy and summoned the Kenyan ambassador in Kinshasa in protest over the launch of a Congolese political-military outfit held in Nairobi a day before the presidential vote.

The diplomatic rift centered on the creation of a political-military coalition in Nairobi, prompting Kinshasa to voice its displeasure both bilaterally and within the East African Community.

Ruto’s message of goodwill, however, faced skepticism from Congolese social media users, with claims of insincerity and a delayed congratulatory note compared to other regional leaders.

Despite Ruto’s conciliatory tone, the wounds from the recent discord appear to linger, with some questioning the authenticity of his sentiments.

This isn’t the first time Ruto has found himself in the midst of strained relations with Kinshasa.

During his tenure as Deputy President, Ruto had to apologize for remarks insuniating that DRC doesn’t keep cows as an investment and a jest about their choice of high-waisted trousers (wanavaa long’I kwa tumbo).

The apology aimed to mend diplomatic fences after his comments were perceived as undiplomatic and disrespectful.

“I regret any misunderstanding that may have arisen on account of my speech and take this opportunity to assure the government and the people of DRC of my profound admiration and high regard,” apologised Ruto in 2022.

Now, with the recent diplomatic turbulence, Ruto faces renewed scrutiny over the handling of relations with the DRC.

While some Congolese expressed appreciation for Ruto’s message, others viewed it with skepticism.

 “PR Ruto, you owe us an apology. First of first! We are not thrilled by this hypocrisy of message and we hope you think well enough next time of what sisterhood and solidarity mean for the Africa that we want,” wrote Iris Nzolatima on X.

Boss Yator claimed Ruto was among the last heads of state to congratulate Tshisekedi after other regional heads had done so including Kenya’s  opposition leader Raila Odinga.

“You didn’t want him to get re-elected but your goose is cooked Bill. Other Presidents already wished him all the best and I doubt he will read your message.”

Ruto’s efforts to mend ties come amid broader regional dynamics, with Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga and former President Uhuru Kenyatta also extending their congratulations to President Tshisekedi.

Kenyatta, as the facilitator of the DRC peace process, emphasized the need for inclusive leadership to ensure peace in the region.

Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi got a resounding reelection with more than 70% of the vote, the country’s election commission said Sunday. 

The preliminary results of the Dec. 20 election were announced in the capital, Kinshasa, amid demands from the opposition and some civil society groups for the vote to be rerun due to massive logistical problems that put the validity of the outcome into question.

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