On December 20, the Congolese must elect their president and their deputies.
“ It is doable but these will certainly be the dirtiest elections in the history of the Democratic Republic of Congo since 2006,” explains a member of an international structure based in Kinshasa.
The presidential election is still announced for December 20, 2023 despite the very worrying security situation in the east of the country and the immense technical and stewardship challenges that face the organizers of these elections. The President of the Republic Félix Tshisekedi continues to repeat that the elections will take place on the set date. The president of the Independent National Electoral Commission (Ceni) Denis Kadima Kazadi says nothing else. “As an aside, he also repeats that certain uncertainties, certain obstacles, particularly financial, still exist but that these elections will be the best we can do in the conditions which prevail today in the Congo. explains a diplomat who recalls that “This speech is nothing new. Almost two years ago, while in Brussels, at the Egmont Palace, Mr. Kadima had already explained that we should not hope that these elections would be flawless. Nothing has changed”.
Philippe Bronchain, Mr. Sub-Saharan Africa from the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs who met Denis Kadima in Kinshasa this week, wanted to be reassuring about the CENI’s capacity to organize this election, thus confirming Brussels’ explicit support for this process.
Félix Tshisekedi, seated on the presidential seat following a “African compromise”, according to the words of French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in February 2019, this time wants a resounding victory. He paid the price to hope to achieve his ends by buying the favors of a majority of parliamentarians, by imposing his president of the CENI and by profoundly modifying the Constitutional Court to install his men there.
DRC: The week when Kabila chose “his” president
He knows that any delay in holding the vote would involve a necessary negotiation with the opposition from which he would inevitably emerge weakened. It would also allow the clan of his predecessor Joseph Kabila to get back on track. Today, this political family of the Common Front for Congo (FCC) has put itself offside by refusing to participate in this election presented as a charade. In the event of negotiations to postpone the date of the vote, President Tshisekedi will inevitably have to put this family back in the game.
It would also give new life to an opposition which is struggling today to organize itself and it would be forced to come to terms with the primary force in Congolese society: the Catholic Church which still appears to be the only actor capable of managing this type of negotiations.
A possible unique candidate?
In this great electoral game, the Congolese opposition still hopes to find an agreement between the main candidates. Time is running out but the situation was the same in 2018 against the Kabila clan. At the time, the opposition leaders met in Geneva to nominate their champion. Martin Fayulu emerged victorious and returned to the country draped in a new legitimacy, despite the defection of Félix Tshisekedi and Vital Kamerhe who, less than twenty-four hours after participating in this designation process, had resumed their signature to launch into a duo campaign.
Today, there are five of them meeting on the starting line and talking to each other to find a consensus on this possible single candidacy: Moïse Katumbi, Denis Mukwege, Martin Fayulu, Denis Sesanga and Augustin Matata Ponyo. The latter, former Prime Minister of Kabila, caught by the Congolese justice system, risks being the first – perhaps not the only one – to be excluded from this race. “We are talking”, explains someone close to Sesanga. “But it will still take a little time to really sit around the table”. “There is still a lot of uncertainty about the qualification of certain candidates. It would be suicidal to announce today our rallying behind a candidate if he were to be rejected by the courts for any reason whatsoever.”, adds a supporter of Martin Fayulu.
Visit of Félix Tshisekedi: Red carpet and realpolitik
The only evidence is that if it wants to avoid giving the pretext of the dispersion of votes in a single round of voting, this opposition must come to an agreement, which is far from being a foregone conclusion. “Egos and frustrations will not make this choice easier. A large part of the vote will depend on this ability to surpass oneself,” further explains our diplomat who underlines “the international spotlight due to the arrival of Denis Mukweke. The process will receive more attention, which can only be good… Maybe not for the powers that be.”