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DRC's Nobel winner Mukwege stages presidential rally in hometown

By RFI
Congo  Arsne Mpiana  AFP
NOV 26, 2023 LISTEN
© Arsène Mpiana / AFP

Denis Mukwege, a Nobel-winning gynaecologist, staged a rally in his hometown in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Saturday, promising to tackle corruption and conflict if elected president next month.   

Addressing supporters in the eastern city of Bukavu, the renowned doctor said he would use political power to "put an end to war, put an end to famine" and to fight graft.

"Today it is normal to steal in the Congo, it is normal to corrupt," said 68-year-old, in Swahili.

Mukwege founded the Panzi hospital and foundation in conflict-torn eastern DRC after witnessing the horrific injuries and diseases suffered by rape victims.

In 2018, he was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize alongside Yazidi activist Nadia Murad for efforts to end sexual violence as a weapon of war.

The doctor announced a presidential bid in October, ending months of speculation over his political ambitions.

The DRC, an impoverished and conflict-torn central African nation of about 100 million people, is scheduled to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on December 20.

Incumbent President Felix Tshisekedi, 60, is running for re-election.

The official campaigning season kicked off on 19 November.

Mukwege chose his hometown of Bukavu to host his first large campaign rally, to which thousands of people came on Saturday.

"During my five-year term of office, [I am going] to give the Congolese people back their dignity, their rights," he said, criticising the country's dependence on foreign aid, including foreign military aid.

"Internationally, we are going to do everything we can to ensure that foreign armies leave Congolese soil, and that the Congolese people learn to take responsibility for their own security," Mukwege said.

Dozens of armed groups are active in eastern DRC, a legacy of regional wars that flared during the 1990s and 200s.

One such group, the M23, has seized swathes of territory in the region since launching an offensive in late 2021, triggering a vast humanitarian crisis with over one million people driven from their homes.

Eastern Congo is also home to an array of foreign military forces, including United Nations peacekeepers of various nationalities, and troops deployed the East African Community.

 (AFP) 

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