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Thousands Greet Congolese Opposition Leader Etienne Tshisekedi

  • VOA News

Congolese opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi (C) is escorted upon arriving at the airport in the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa, July 27, 2016, after nearly two-year stay overseas for medical treatment.

Congolese opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi (C) is escorted upon arriving at the airport in the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa, July 27, 2016, after nearly two-year stay overseas for medical treatment.

Thousands lined the streets of Kinshasa Wednesday to cheer and welcome home Congolese opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, who spent the last two years having medical treatment in Belgium.

The 83-year-old Tshisekedi did not address the crowds as he made his way from the airport. He plans to make his first public remarks at an opposition rally Sunday.

The opposition in the Democratic Republic of Congo hopes Tshisekedi's return will revitalize efforts to keep President Joseph Kabila from hanging on to power beyond the end of his two terms in December.

The DRC constitution bars him from running again. But the opposition says Kabila is looking to put off the November presidential election to avoid stepping down.

Opposition officials say they hope Kabila will give up power on December 19, no matter what happens.

FILE - Democratic Republic of the Congo's President Joseph Kabila (C) greets supporters as he arrives at the airport in Lubumbashi, the capital of Katanga province in the Democratic Republic of Congo, June 13, 2016.

FILE - Democratic Republic of the Congo's President Joseph Kabila (C) greets supporters as he arrives at the airport in Lubumbashi, the capital of Katanga province in the Democratic Republic of Congo, June 13, 2016.

Tshisekedi lost the 2011 presidential election. He remains the country's most popular opposition figure, despite spending the last two years in Brussels for treatment of an unspecified illness.

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