Presidential election in the DRC, who will be on the starting line?

Presidential election in the DRC, who will be on the starting line?

On December 20, Congolese voters will have to nominate their new President of the Republic… if the timetable submitted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (Ceni) is respected.

Since last Friday, presidential candidates can submit their applications. They have until October 8 to do so. Their applications will then be studied for possible validation. We should know in mid-November the names of the candidates for this election which since the establishment of the presidential election in 2006 has systematically been the subject of disputes, tensions and has given rise to great doubts about the real name of the announced winner.

There is little chance that this process will escape this “tradition” as the dice seem loaded by the power in place. The current president Félix Tshisekedi, installed on the “throne” of the country by the will of his predecessor Joseph Kabila, without worrying about the will of the people, who had voted massively for the candidate of the Lamuka platform Martin Fayulu, built a parliamentary majority with big blows of greenbacks, reshaped the composition of the Constitutional Court without worrying about legal requirements and installed his favorite, Denis Kadima Kazadi, at the head of the CENI, without the necessary consensus of religious institutions. In the wake of these “small arrangements”, the CENI organized a chaotic registration of voters and refused the international audit of the electoral register. So many elements that push a diplomat declared: “This year we are facing the worst election in the recent history of the country”.

In this context, some have already announced their intention not to participate in this election…. at least as long as the electoral file is not reviewed, others have decided to take up the gauntlet and confront Tshisekedi on his home turf… “Especially so as not to leave him alone or only facing candidates who cannot contest his victory”, explains one of Moïse Katumbi’s lieutenants. The former governor of Katanga, prevented from registering in 2018, has sworn this time to be part of it. This year, there remains a third category, that of the undecided.

The certainties

Felix Tshisekedi will be a candidate for his succession. The constitution authorizes him to run for a second term and he has built up a political clientele who have voted for him and clearly state his determination to win the election. “As Omar Bongo said, in Gabon, we do not organize a vote to lose it. explains, bravado, one of the president’s close associates. In his first circle, victory is beyond doubt. But its record is non-existent or, worse, disastrous. The country has never been so fragile, community tensions so significant and insecurity so evident. “Aside from two public celebrations for the Francophonie Games ceremonies, his mandate is a disaster. explains a member of a civil society movement who points out, “just in recent days, the massacre of civilians in Goma by elements of the Republican Guard; the murder of an opponent in Kinshasa and the arrest, on the eve of this weekend, of an overly curious journalist.”

Moses Katumbi, the former governor of Katanga is Tshisekedi’s real rival. The only. He structured a party across the entire national territory and his popularity remained significant despite an attitude that was not always very clear towards Tshisekedi until the eve of this calendar year. The arrest of his main advisor Salomon Kalonda, the attempts by those in power to reduce the volume of his business or to put pressure on his partners say a lot about the fears he arouses within the current majority. Without forgetting the questions and the silence surrounding the assassination of its spokesperson, Chérubin Okende in the heart of Kinshasa.

Delly Sesanga. Member of Parliament, president of the Envol party. This lawyer comes from the same region (greater Kasaï) as Tshisekedi. It shows that this province is not united behind a single candidate. His sense of phrase that hits the mark makes him a real punchman. But the man comes from afar and will struggle to influence this election.

Matata Ponyo. Kabila’s former Prime Minister was the first to submit his candidacy for the opening of the CENI offices. It must be said that he has some problems with the law in the case of an agro-industrial complex on the outskirts of Kinshasa which swallowed up hundreds of millions of dollars which were not lost for everyone. Same observation as for Delly Sesanga, he will struggle to influence this election and the multiplication of candidates could allow a dispersion of votes which would benefit the power in a one-round election.

Adoplhe Muzito. Another former Prime Minister. Companion of Martin Fayulu throughout the 2018 post-election period, the candidate from Greater Bandundu has been announcing his candidacy for many months. But the man who seems capable of sailing from one bank to the other appears like a featherweight wishing to exist on the Congolese political scene. More than the other candidates presented above, the man appears to be a candidate who can justify a possible scattering of votes.

They won’t be

Joseph Kabilaat the head of the country for 17 years, announced that his political family “would not participate in this farce”, according to the expression of one of his advisors. The refusal by the Ceni of an audit of the independent electoral register was one blow too many. The man still weighs on the country’s political scene. “Honoured at the end of his mandate, he appears to be a lesser evil for many Congolese worn out by a mandate of Tshisekedi,” notes a diplomat who continues. “But he remains inaccessible on the regional and global scene. His return is impossible but he can influence this election”. Kabila announced at the end of spring that he was going to speak. Until now, the man with rare words is still waiting. Those close to him assure that it is “imminent”.

Martin Fayulu, the candidate who was robbed of victory in 2018, while he was supported by a powerful political front, positions himself on the same line as Kabila. But in recent days, rumors have been growing about a last-minute candidacy. His bodyguards deny it. The man from Greater Bandundu remains popular in his province and in Kinshasa but has lost all the engines that carried him in 2018. But he remains one of the rare politicians who can be heard throughout the country.

He’s waiting

Denis Mukwege. The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. Will it go? His most fervent supporters – who are mainly abroad – push him to embark on the adventure. But the man has no party, no political experience and risks a lot by embarking on this political adventure. “Many of the financial supports he needs for his Panzi hospital will not accompany a politician,” asserts a good connoisseur of the file. Man has desires, ideas, supporters but also detractors. Its aura may be an essential element for a new Congo but it risks fading away in the Congolese political backwater.