Congolese opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi died Wednesday battling long with ill health, as rumored, at a crucial time for the country as he was involved in a deal to get President Joseph Kabila step down by 2017-end. He was 84.
A press statement of his death confirmation in Belgium was released by party spokesman Augustin Kabuya without detailing cause. Radio France Internationale meanwhile reveals the leader died from a pulmonary embolism.
Tshisekedi’s body would be brought to Congo and is not very clear yet about the place of his funeral.
Observers believe death of the opposition icon to compound difficulties for the country. Tshisekedi had pushed for democratic reforms for decades throughout civil war and dictatorship.
The leader had complications from diabetes and had been seeking medical treatment in Belgium, the former colonizer of Congo.
In 2010 he returned from medical treatment abroad and walked fifteen miles from airport to his suburban home in Kinshasa.
In 1982 he formed the first opposition party of Congo to combat against longtime dictatorship of Mobutu sese Seko. It was named as Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS).
Even though he declared himself as president of the country in 2011 election that was marred by allegations of vote rigging by ruling party, Tshisekedi never ascend to the highest office of Congo.
In recent years he had been the most outspoken critic of the president. In his YouTube message in December 2016 he said to the countrymen, “I launch a solemn appeal to the Congolese people to not recognize the illegal and illegitimate authority of Joseph Kabila, and to peacefully resist a coup d’état that was carried out with the blessing of the constitutional court.”