The death of Democratic Republic of Congo’s veteran oppostion leader Etienne Tshisekedi at the age of 84 in Brussels, leaves the oppostion without a popular champion.
The pivotal figure who died on Wednesday while undergoing medical treatment, was set take the top post in a transitional council agreed in December, under a deal to pave way for president Joseph Kabila to leave power in 2017, and stop him from vying for a third term.
While speaking to Africanews, Tshitenge Lubabu, an analyst from DRC, said the future of negotiations between the government and opposition hangs in the balance.
“One can be worried, because he was an important opposition figure. We saw that there was consensus when he was around. Now that he is no longer in this world, I think that the opposition will find it hard to find someone whom everyone can rally behind to negotiate with the government.”
Talks to implement the deal had stalled amid disagreement over power sharing, further dimming chances of holding elections by the end of the year.
Tshisekedi’s death also begs the question, who will succeed him at the helm of the main opposition bloc?
His son, Felix Tshisekedi, had been fronted by the oppostion as prime minister for the new government under the deal, but whether he will take over as leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party, remains unclear.
“I am not sure that things will be simple because, within his party, there are objections towards his son. Some do not feel that he is the right man. So the UDPS will go through some rather difficult times before it regains balance,” Lubabu added.
As DRC mourns the fall of a vocal critic of successive authoritarian regimes, the probability of attaining political stability remains uncertain in a country that has never had peaceful transition of power since independence in 1960.