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DRC opposition leader Moïse Katumbi officially launches presidential campaign

By Melissa Chemam with RFI
Congo REUTERS - Kenny Katombe
NOV 20, 2023 LISTEN
REUTERS - Kenny Katombe

The former governor of Katanga and leading opposition figure, Moïse Katumbi, has officially launched his campaign to become the next president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Speaking on the launch of his campaign in Kisangani on Monday, Katumbi said: "Today's campaign launch is another step towards a brighter future for this city, and for this country."

"The needs of the Congolese have been neglected for too long, he added.

"Armed with my programme, which we launched last week in Kinshasa, we will restore hope to the many thousands that have been denied it.

Over the next month, Katumbi will continue to travel throughout the DRC, to listen to "the needs of the people", he added, and to share "his vision for the country."

He will visit cities and towns in Province Orientale, including those in Kivu, before continuing with his nationwide campaign tour.

Katumbi's campaign will be centred on the four pillars of his programme: institutional transformation, structural transformation of the economy, social transformation, and sustainable transformation.

"The current cohort of corrupt leaders cannot be trusted to change their ways," he concluded.

To him, the 20 December elections are "the best chance the DRC has for a brighter future."  

Uniting the opposition

Moise Katumbi, 58, is a wealthy businessman and owner of Congolese football club TP Mazembe, based in the southeastern city of Lubumbashi.

He was born in the Katanga province, the mineral-rich economic motor of the DRC, where he became a governor.

But Katumbi has also often been criticised for not being "fully" Congolese, because his father was born in Greece. 

As leader of the Together for the Republic party, Katumbi argues that his track record developing Katanga as provincial governor qualifies him for the presidency.

Katumbi is trying to mobolise other potential candidates to join his campaign.

Former Prime Minister (2012-2016) Augustin Matata Ponyo announced on Sunday his withdrawal in his favour.

“I invite all presidential candidates who are concerned about the future of the DRC and its people to join Moïse Katumbi Chapwe,” Matata Ponyo declared.

Crowded field

The announcement comes a day after the launch of incumbent leader Felix Tshisekedi's campaign, on Sunday, who held his first rally at the Martyrs stadium in Kinshasa.

In an interview with RFI and France 24 on Friday, he said he was "not afraid of the opposition, united or not".

One of his main challengers, Martin Fayulu, also addressed a rally on Sunday, in the nearby province of Bandundu, his fiefdom.

The 66-year-old former oil executive and head of the Ecide party announced his candidacy on 30 September.

For the past five years, his supporters have referred to him as the "president-elect", arguing that he was the true winner of the 2018 election.

He believes the election in December will be fraudulent and it was initially unclear whether he would run.

In June, he told RFI English that the president Tshisekedi and his government were incapable of any kind of action, blaming them for most of the troubles in the country.

In total, 25 candidates are in the running including renowned surgical gynaecologist, Denis Mukwege, who was awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for his effort to end sexual violence.

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