In the Democratic Republic of the Congo:
► Félix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo
On the first day of his visit, Pope Francis will meet the current President of the DRC, Felix Tshisekedi, at the Palais de la Nation in Kinshasa. Deputy of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), party long led by his father Étienne, main opponent of President Mobutu Sese Seko from 1965 to 1997, Félix Tshisekedi was elected in December 2018 at the head of the country during of a contested election.
Baptized Catholic as a child, Tshisekedi is now an Evangelical Christian and has several pastors in his close circle.
► Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde Kyenge, Prime Minister of Congo
The Pope will also meet the Prime Minister of the DRC, Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde Kyenge. Born in Paris, an engineer then elected as a member of the Avenir du Congo party, he was one of the youngest parliamentarians in the country’s National Assembly.
In 2019, he became general manager of the state mining company Gécamines. He was appointed head of government in February 2021.
►The Archbishop of Kinshasa and the bishops of the Episcopal Conference (Cenco)
Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, created cardinal in 2019 by Francis, will be present during the first mass celebrated by the pope at Ndolo airport on February 1. The Archbishop of Kinshasa has planned to address him publicly at the end of it.
On February 3, before leaving for South Sudan, Francis will also meet the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Congo (Cenco), chaired by the Archbishop of Kisangani, Mgr Marcel Utembi Tapa.
In South Sudan
► The Archbishop of Canterbury and a representative of the Church of Scotland in the papal delegation
Archbishop Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of the Anglican Communion, along with Moderator of the Church of Scotland Assembly, are part of the delegation accompanying the Pope on his visit to South Sudan.
In particular, he is expected to visit the mausoleum of John Garang, founder of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) then vice-president of the autonomous region of South Sudan, assassinated in 2005.
► Salva Kiir, President of South Sudan
The current President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, was also a member of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). After the death of John Garang, he succeeded him as head of the Southern Autonomous Region. After the last secession, in July 2011, Kiir became the first head of state of independent South Sudan.
► The five South Sudanese vice-presidents
During a dinner organized at the Presidential Palace, François will also meet the five South Sudanese vice-presidents, Riek Machar, James Wani Igga, Taban Deng Gai, Hussein Abdelbagi, as well as Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior, wife of John Garang.
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