Know the main contenders in Congo’s December presidential election
Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi will re-contest against more than two dozen rivals in a Dec. 20 election.
His rivals include old foes such as Martin Fayulu, who came second in the disputed 2018 poll, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Denis Mukwege.
Below are the main candidates in the race.
President Felix Tshisekedi
Tshisekedi, 60, son of Congo’s late opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, came to power in a disputed 2018 election buoyed by a power-sharing alliance with former president Joseph Kabila.
The alliance unravelled soon after, so he joined forces with other Congolese political heavyweights including economy minister Vital Kamerhe and former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba.
Tshisekedi promised to root out corruption and authoritarian rule, rebuild the economy, tackle inequalities and deal with conflict in the east, but critics say he has fallen short on all counts.
Katumbi, 58, a businessman, made a fortune in mining, transport and food processing before entering politics. He was governor of copper-rich Katanga region from 2007 to 2015. Initially an ally of Kabila, the two fell out when Katumbi accused the former president of trying to cling to power beyond his mandate.
Katumbi fled Congo in 2016, accused by the government of plotting against Kabila, and was later sentenced to three years in prison in absentia for real estate fraud.
In 2018, he was prevented from entering the country in time to submit his candidacy for the presidential election.
But this time his chances have been boosted by the backing of three candidates that have dropped out of the race.
Katumbi was born of a Congolese mother and a Jewish Greek father who fled Rhodes Island under Italian fascist occupation and settled in Congo’s Katanga in 1945, according to his biography on his party website. Katumbi’s mixed heritage has been used by rivals to question his loyalty to Congo.
Fayulu, 66, a former Exxon Mobil executive, is an old rival who came second in the 2018 election that he claims he won. Before the 2018 election, Fayulu was chosen as the joint opposition candidate in a deal with Tshisekedi. But Tshisekedi pulled out and joined the power-sharing agreement with Kabila.
Fayulu sent representatives to a meeting in South Africa where the main opposition candidates discussed joining forces behind one candidate. Fayulu later said that his representatives were kicked out of the meeting.
Renowned gynaecologist Mukwege, 68, won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work over nearly two decades in combating sexual violence, including treating hundreds of victims of wartime rape and abuse at the Panzi hospital, which he founded in 1999.
Nicknamed “the man who repairs women”, Mukwege, a tirst timer in the presidential race, is based in eastern Congo, where armed militias have long carried out attacks on civilians. He has been highly critical of the government’s failure to rein in conflict.
When he announced his candidacy on Oct. 3, he said: “My only motivation is to save and develop our country.”
Marie José Ifoku
Ifoku is one of three women cleared by Congo’s national election commission to run in the presidential race. It is Ifoku’s second attempt. She was the only female candidate in the 2018 presidential race where she came ninth out of 21 candidates with 0.15% of the vote.
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