On Friday, the former opposition leader’s remains were finally set to arrive in Congo. They were to be buried at the headquarters of his party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress, in Kinshasa, the capital. But the body never arrived, and is still in the morgue.
In a series of episodes apparently intended to thwart the body’s expected homecoming this week, a police vehicle and a police station in front of the opposition headquarters were set on fire on Tuesday by unidentified assailants. About 100 police officers quickly swarmed the area and surrounded the building.
Since then, party officials, including Félix Tshisekedi, Mr. Tshisekedi’s son and successor, have been denied entry to the headquarters or have had to shove their way through a cordon of police officers, said Abraham Luakabuanga, a party spokesman.
Early Friday, the police padlocked the building, leaving 30 officials stuck inside, Mr. Luakabuanga said. “It’s a frame-up to prevent the return of the body of our president, Étienne Tshisekedi, and to delay his funeral,” he said in a telephone interview from Kinshasa, referring to Mr. Tshisekedi’s onetime position as head of the party.
“What we fear is that the police hide weapons that could compromise us, and use that as an excuse to lock the area down for even longer,” he added. “We’re returning to the era of Mobutu. It’s crazy,” he said, referring to Mobutu Sese Seko, Congo’s kleptocratic leader whom Étienne Tshisekedi fell out with and fought against.
Neither the government nor the police responded to requests for comment.
Roger Ilunga, another of Mr. Tshisekedi’s sons, said his father’s body would be flown into Congo in about 12 days. “We agreed with the government on the location of a new burial ground,” he said from Brussels, where he lives with the rest of the Tshisekedi family. “So theoretically, there should not be a problem.”
Last week, a Belgian architect who was in charge of building a mausoleum for Mr. Tshisekedi was assaulted and temporarily detained in prison in Kinshasa. Four police officers barged into his home, put a knife to his wife’s throat and stole $32,000, said Mr. Luakabuanga, the U.D.P.S. party spokesman. They also took his passport.
On Tuesday, Mr. Kabila reshuffled his government in what may have been an attempt to appease the opposition. Last year, he struck a deal with the opposition in which he promised to hold elections by the end of this year.
Not long after that deal was reached, one of the prime negotiators and the main opposition leader, Mr. Tshisekedi, died, and a power struggle erupted over who should succeed him atop the opposition coalition, known as Rassemblement.
Last month, Mr. Kabila appointed Bruno Tshibala as prime minister. Mr. Tshibala had been a major player in the opposition coalition but was ousted after he clashed with Mr. Tshisekedi’s son and successor, Félix.
In Tuesday’s government reshuffle, Mr. Kabila retained most of his ministers. He also appointed four opposition lawmakers to the government.
In addition to political instability, the Congolese economy is reeling from a rapid currency depreciation and low foreign reserves, due to weak mineral prices. Inflation has skyrocketed from below 2 percent in 2015 to more than 25 percent last year.
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