President Paul Kagame has paid respects to the fallen Congolese veteran opposition politician Étienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba who died at 84 in Belgium two years ago.
Angolan President João Lourenço and Kagame were at the Martyrs Stadium on Friday afternoon alongside President Félix Tshisekedi.
Before his death while on medical leave in Belgium, Tshisekedi was leader of the main opposition political party – the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) – He also once served as Prime Minister of the vast mineral rich country.
The body was on Thursday airlifted from Brussels where it lay since his death in February 2017.
The plane that airlifted the body of fallen Tshisekedi was reportedly lent by President Faure Gnassingbé of Togo.
The private jet flew later with the body on board and 10 members of Tshisekedi’s family, leaving dozens of others stranded in Belgium.
On arrival in Kinshasa, the body of the fallen opposition politician was first taken to the mortuary of the Cinquantenaire Hospital.
Presidential guards tightly manning the entrance to the Cinquantenaire Hospital in Kinshasa told people swarmed around, “Those who have nothing to do here can go to the Martyrs Stadium,” the men in uniform politely explained.
This afternoon shortly before 4:00 pm, the body was escorted by hundreds of UDPS party members on the road leading to the Martyrs Stadium.
Burial of the fallen former prime minister is scheduled for Saturday. In total, ten heads of state and government were expected in Kinshasa capital by the Congolese presidency for this tribute.
When Tshisekedi died in Belgium while on a medical leave, his remains were blocked from returning home because of an ugly dispute with former President Joseph Kabila.
However, The deadlock ended when his son, Félix, became president last year.
As the casket containing Etienne Tshisikedi’s remains entered the 80,000-capacity stadium this afternoon, cheers erupted. For the UDPS supporters, Tshisekedi body coming home represents a victory over the former government.
A state funeral will take place on Saturday in the town of Nsele, east of Kinshasa.
Meanwhile, according to Rwanda Presidency, Kagame, “begun his visit with a tête a tête meeting with President Tshisekedi followed by paying his respects to the late former Prime Minister Etienne Tshisekedi at the national mourning ceremony.”
This morning, Presidents Kagame, Félix Tshisekedi and João Lourenço held a a tripartite meeting “focusing on restoring regional security and enhancing economic cooperation”.