World Bulletin / News Desk
Tshisekedi died from a pulmonary embolism in a Brussels hospital, where he had been undergoing treatment since Jan. 24.
Before that he had been under house arrest in the capital Kinshasa apparently at the order of President Joseph Kabila, in the aftermath of the contested 2011 election, which Tshisekedi said he won.
Tshisekedi, head of the main opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party, has been the country’s key opposition leader since the 1970s, during the reign of Mobutu Sese Seko.
He also briefly served as prime minister three times in the 1990s, when the country was still known as Zaire.
''We are shocked that our leader has died. When he left for Brussels he told us he was going for a medical checkup. He played a big role in our politics. He deserves a state funeral,'' said Paul Mulunga, a mobilizer for the party.
He said that the party leadership will soon announce funeral arrangements.
Simon Longa, the party’s vice chairman in Central Congo, said that Tshisekedi died at a time when there was hope he would be the next president.
''The opposition and government have been holding talks on how President Kabila should leave office and elections would be held at the end of this year. There are all indications that Tshisekedi would have won the elections. ''