Joseph Kabila and Musa Katumbi shake hands during a mass in Lubumbashi

Joseph Kabila and Musa Katumbi shake hands during a mass in Lubumbashi

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The Katanga Unity and Reconciliation Forum closed on Sunday (May 22nd) in Lubumbashi. The celebration took place during a mass said by Monsignor Fulgens Muteba, Archbishop of Lubumbashi. On this occasion, hundreds of dignitaries attended the handshake between Joseph Kabila and Moses Katumbi. It must be remembered that these two politicians have just gone through a long period of extreme tension in the wake of their political views.

With our correspondent in Lubumbashi, Denise Maheho

At 10 am, the area around St Peter and Paul Cathedral fills with people. Nobody wants to miss the reconciliation ceremony. An hour later, it was the start of the block.

In the cathedral, Moses Katumbi, dressed in a white shirt, is seated to the right of the altar. On the left, Joseph Kabila, the former head of state, alone occupies a place reserved for him. The block lasts more than two hours. Then comes the long-awaited moment.

The Archbishop of Lubumbashi announced that the two Katangese leaders had decided to make a gesture of reconciliation. Then Moise Katumbi advanced toward Joseph Kabila. The two men shake hands with a smile.

Another powerful moment is the ritual of reconciliation. The two politicians washed their hands in a basin of water, in a symbol that represented a new beginning. And this ceremony was held at the conclusion of the mass in the front yard of the cathedral, in the presence of all the clergy and the curious.

Finally, everyone shared a meal, during which Joseph Kabila addressed the youth, inviting them to follow the recommendations of the Forum, because today’s ceremony, he said, was more about the Katanga unit. The forum participants also recommended the release of the katanga, who are detained for their political views.

I think we were not wrong in giving Moise Katumbi and Kabila the opportunity to reconcile because through them other Katanga, other Congolese and countries that supported Kabila or Musa, also find an opportunity for reconciliation

This handshake evokes many feelings among the people who came to attend the Reconciliation Mass

But what is the meaning of this gesture? Should we see reconciliation between these two characters so far cool? Or is it just a practical gesture in light of the 2023 election deadlines?

It’s an embrace between two politicians who have been separated for some time and today, reconcile for an overview of the future… We are on the threshold of the 2023 elections, and there are accounts to go to and win the elections. Politicians are very likely to make calculations to regain power in 2023.

Me Hubert Tshiswaka Masoka, Director of the Institute for Human Rights Research (IRDH).

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