DRCongo: The Tshisekedi – Katumbi match can begin

DRCongo: The Tshisekedi – Katumbi match can begin

The Constitutional Court validated this Monday October 30he candidacy of the former governor of Katanga province.

The pressure was particularly palpable in the various headquarters of political parties this Monday in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Everyone was awaiting the decision of the Constitutional Court, responsible for examining requests filed against candidates for the supreme office. One request focused attention, that introduced by Noël Tshiani against Moïse Katumbi for lack of nationality.

Noël Tshiani made his fight against Moïse Katumbi his main campaign argument, his business. It was he who, without being elected, succeeded in having a bill tabled which prohibited certain functions – notably the presidency of the Republic – to all those who were not of Congolese mother and father (Law of Congolity ). He was already targeting the candidacy of Moïse Katumbi who was born to a non-Congolese father. But the bill was unsuccessful. “This text was a real danger, one more, for the stability of the country”explains a Congolese lawyer who points out “in particular, the weakness, not to say the non-existence, of a national register in Congo. This text could allow all risky denunciations.”

Ultimately, Noël Tshiani will have failed down the line in his fight against Moïse Katumbi. After his bill, his request was in fact declared admissible but unfounded by the Constitutional Court which thus definitively validated the candidacy of the president of the political party Ensemble pour la République for the presidential election of December 20.

A single opposition candidate?

With this validation, the electoral campaign can really begin even if officially, it will only begin one month before the vote is held.

Of the 25 presidential candidates (the Constitutional Court validated this Monday the candidacy of Joëlle Bile, second woman on this list with Marie-Josée Ifoku) some could be tempted to come together to present a single candidacy against the president of the Republic. This summer, in Lubumbashi, four candidates, then potential candidates, appeared together and talked half-heartedly about the possibility of trying to find an agreement for a single candidacy. Four names that count on the Congolese political scene: Moïse Katumbi, Martin Fayulu, Delly Sesanga and Augustin Matata Ponyo.

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A quartet to which we must now add the name of Denis Mukwege, the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner, a candidate without a party who has an exceptional international reputation which could put the Congolese vote at the center of attention in many Western capitals. “Denis Mukwege’s candidacy does not scare anyone in Congo. The man does not have powerful relays in the country and he does not have the aura in the DRC that he enjoys in Washington, Brussels or Paris. On the other hand, his voice will be heard in these foreign capitals and he can prevent cheating with complete peace of mind for those who would be tempted to do so.”explains a diplomat present in Kinshasa.

DR Congo, two months before the presidential election, can the opposition agree on a single candidate?

Can these men get along? “It’s too early”explained, at the end of last week, a representative of one of these five candidates who then expressed his doubts about “the qualification of Katumbi”, convinced that “the power in place was going to do everything to block it”.

Officially, none of these five candidates closed the door to such alliance which is reminiscent of the events of November 2018, when several opponents of Joseph Kabila’s candidate managed to agree on a single candidacy from the opposition which supported Martin Fayulu in the December 2018 election. An agreement which included, for 24 hours, the support of Felix Tshisekedi and Vital Kamerhe who quickly renounced their signature to found, a few days later, in Nairobi, a two-person structure (Cach – Cap sur le Changement) which would lead to the candidacy of the representative of the UDPS, the son of the historic opponent Etienne Tshisekedi, freshly arrived from Brussels without a penny.

Five years later, negotiations have fallen behind schedule and the situation is clearly different. 5 years ago, Moïse Katumbi was prevented from returning to the country by President Joseph Kabila. He was therefore unable to submit his application. Despite this sidelining, Katumbi continued his efforts and was the driving force behind this union. Today, the former governor of Katanga, president of the Tout-Puissant Mazembe football club, is finally, at almost 59 years old, on the starting grid and he should not take any steps aside for the benefit of another candidate. “He carried the opposition at arm’s length in 2018. He was the financier of this team. A colossal financial and human effort for a particularly disappointing result”, recognizes someone close to Katumbi who does not envisage anything other than a candidacy from his favorite that others could join.

Why is Katumbi scary?

In front of the candidacy of the outgoing presidentwho muzzled the Independent National Electoral Commission (Ceni) and the Constitutional Court by placing relatives there, Moïse Katumbi remains the main opponent and the candidate who worries those in power. No one in the ranks of the current majority has forgotten that Joseph Kabila’s clan had the same assets in 2018 and yet had to resolve to cede power, whatever the conditions, to another political family. The situation has changed little. The power of Félix Tshisekedi has no record to highlight, neither social nor economic. LThe population is largely unfavorable to a second mandate of “the man who came from Brussels with his Parisian friends”, to use an expression often heard in Kinshasa or Lubumbashi.

Vital Kamerhe, in turn, renounces his signature

As for thethe security situation, She is more catastrophic than ever, with a real war which has resumed in the East, mainly in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri. The tensions in the former great Katanga are obvious and the former Bandundu is just waiting to flare up.

Félix Tshisekedi built the current political majority with dollars. “The population is not fooled, they know that these politicians who joined the Tshisekedi clan were only guided by the lure of profit. The rate of reappointment of elected representatives to the National Assembly is very low in the DRC and should not improve this time, if we really give the floor to the voters”continues the diplomat.

Faced with this observation, Moïse Katumbi continued to build a national political party, a formation that he structured and which, as a recent tour in several provinces showed, is capable of widely mobilizing a population tired of seeing a class leader shamelessly parade and display the external signs of new wealth. “Tshisekedi has the means to maintain an army of small hands who can set the tone on social networks. But the Congolese street has little access to these networks. She is hungry. She sees her misery which continues to grow. She doesn’t see a future for herself or her children. It is all the more dangerous for the current power as the hope was great and it was greatly disappointed. explains an attentive observer of Congolese life who does not hide his skepticism about the upcoming organization of elections. “The government announces that more than 20,000 voting machines must still arrive, but doubts remain about the financing of this operation. Without forgetting that they will still have to be dispatched to a country which has no roads, which practically no longer has planes and which can no longer count on the same support from the United Nations. The schedule will be very difficult to meet if everything goes well and everything does not go well,” he concludes.

Will the elections take place?

In this explosive climate, the question is whether real elections can be organized quickly across the entire Democratic Republic of Congo. Denis Kadima, the president of the Ceni, has always insisted that the meeting would be maintained at all costs. President Tshisekedi never said anything else. However, today, 50 days before the election, electoral experts are increasingly doubting the possibility of organizing this election in the Swahili-speaking east where fighting has resumed with rare intensity in recent days.

The forces loyal to the power of Kinshasa bring together a hodgepodge of men from rebel movements, opponents of the Kigali regime, foreign mercenaries and soldiers of the national armed forces relegated to the rank of stooges. A heterogeneous tangle, incapable of structuring itself, but which is armed by Kinshasa. Opposite, the M23 rebels, who are said to be supported by the power of Paul Kagame, are certainly recording losses, but above all appear to be a structured movement which knows the terrain perfectly and is therefore difficult to push back.
In this context, it is difficult to see how the CENI could deploy polling stations in this region of the country… if it really wants to.

Visit of Félix Tshisekedi: Red carpet and realpolitik

The deterioration of the situation could in fact be another strategy of the authorities to gain time and justify a report of the election. A strategy that would be built on the backs of countless Congolese.

The UN once again sounded the alarm at the start of the week by publishing the figures for internal refugees in this country. According to the United Nations, 6.9 million Congolese were forced to leave their region, in particular to avoid this war in the east of the country. A new sad record.