Felix Tshisekedi, an opposition leader whose victory in presidential elections last month is widely considered to be illegitimate, took the oath of office on Thursday vowing to tackle the country’s endemic corruption. Shortly after assuming power, Mr. Tshisekedi announced that he would free all the country’s political prisoners. Despite lingering accusations of vote fraud, neighboring countries, the United States and other foreign powers, eager to promote stability over potential chaos, hailed the first peaceful transfer of power since Congo’s independence, in 1960. On Wednesday, the United States’ State Department, having at first warned about sanctions for individuals accused of impeding the democratic process, struck a conciliatory tone and said it was “committed to working with the new government.”
Other regional heavyweights, like South Africa, Zambia and Angola, countries that had initially cast doubts on the election results, came around as well, congratulating Mr. Tshisekedi on his victory.
While officials from 10 countries attended the ceremonies, only one leader, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, went in person.
But the Dec. 30 elections were marred by irregularities, and the handpicked candidate of President Joseph Kabila, Emmanuel Shadary, attracted so little support that the president had to turn to Mr. Tshisekedi to maintain an appearance of credibility.