Kabila candidate faces divided challenge in Congo presidential poll


The presidential candidate for the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC’s) ruling coalition hailed current president Joseph Kabila as an “exceptional man” for not seeking re-election in December, underlining his reputation as a loyal Kabila supporter.

Kabila has been in power since his father, the late Laurent-Desire Kabila was assassinated in 2001. He agreed last month not to defy term limits by standing for re-election, opening the door to the Central African nation’s first democratic transfer of power.

His announcement calmed tensions that have seen dozens of anti-Kabila demonstrators killed by security forces since he refused to step down when his constitutional mandate expired in December 2016.

Kabila is backing Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary in the upcoming elections scheduled for December, 23. His main opposers are likely to be Felix Tshisekedi, the president of Congo’s largest opposition party, and Vital Kamerhe, who placed third in the last election in 2011.

A total of 21 candidates have been approved to stand in the coming elections, many of whom include prominent Kabila critics. However, former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba and ex-provincial governor Moise Katumbi have been excluded by authorities from this race and this has raised questions about the fairness of the elections.

Joseph Kabila has been accused of plotting to rig the elections with untested electronic voting machines, a charge the ruling coalition rejects.

Ramazani did not receive enough votes in a recent opinion poll held in July, to figure in the results but he is expected to now benefit from the ruling coalition’s financial and institutional muscle.

Opposition leaders have repeatedly said they intend to coalesce behind a single candidate but have traditionally struggled to present a united front. In 2011, Kabila won with 49 percent of ballots cast as the opposition vote split.

The final candidate list also includes former prime minister Samy Badibanga and long-time Kabila ally Tryphon Kin-Kiey.

Bemba was disqualified by the constitutional court earlier this month over a witness tampering conviction while Katumbi was prevented from re-entering the country last month to register his candidacy after two years in exile.


Article sourced from Reuters

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