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An awkward grip: Kabila (L) at Tshisekedi's inauguration in Jan. 2019. Photo: Tony Karumba/AFP via Getty

Félix Tshisekedi has been on a good run.

Driving the news: The president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo took over the chairmanship of the African Union this week. Days earlier, he won a major victory in an ongoing power struggle with his predecessor, Joseph Kabila, by convincing a large swath of parliament to leave Kabila's camp and vote out the speaker, a Kabila ally.

The backstory: Tshisekedi is something of an accidental president. He was declared the winner of the DRC’s December 2018 elections despite independent observers believing another candidate, Martin Fayulu, was the clear winner.

  • Most believed Kabila — who spent 18 years in office and effectively controlled the electoral commission — struck a backroom deal to elevate Tshisekedi while ensuring he'd retain a large slice of power after stepping down.
  • That compact has eroded over time. On Jan. 27, it appeared to crumble entirely.

How it happened: One MP told the Economist that “money circulated” as his fellow parliamentarians were convinced to switch sides, but that they'd been offered even more money to stay put.

  • Many seem to base their calculus on the fact that Tshisekedi has the power to dole out patronage to allies and investigate foes for corruption — making him a better friend to have.
  • Tshisekedi is becoming a more powerful president than many expected, but he has not yet proved a particularly effective one in terms of delivering promised economic and political reforms, per the Economist.

Worth noting: The U.S. and European countries — happy to see the back of Kabila and hoping for some stability — largely ignored the fact that the 2018 election was rigged in Tshisekedi's favor.

Go deeper

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.

3 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Children "very likely" to get COVID vaccine at start of 2022

NIAID Director Anthony Fauci. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Children under age 12 will "very likely" be able to get vaccinated for coronavirus at the "earliest the end of the year, and very likely the first quarter of 2022," NIAID Director Anthony Fauci told "Meet the Press" Sunday.

Why it matters: Children generally aren't at risk of serious coronavirus infections, but vaccinating them will be key to protecting the adults around them and, eventually, reaching herd immunity, writes Axios' Caitlin Owens.