Exiled Congolese opposition leader Moise Katumbi returning to fight for presidency

Exiled Congolese opposition leader Moise Katumbi returning to fight for presidency

Update: the government has refused entry to Moise Katumbi, raising tensions. Moise Katumbi, the leader of one of DR Congo’s

Katumbi congo presidential candidate

Photo: Reuters

Update: the government has refused entry to Moise Katumbi, raising tensions.

Moise Katumbi, the leader of one of DR Congo’s opposition parties, was expected to land in Lubumbashi today after fleeing the country in 2016.

Mr Katumbi lived in Belgium for the past two years after being found guilty of real estate fraud—a charge he denies. Katumbi’s arrival coincides with the return of Jean-Pierre Bemba. While both Katumbi and Bemba plan to contest the country’s presidential election, currently scheduled for December, the government of Joseph Kabila has suggested the two may be ineligible to run due to their previous convictions.

Ironically, Mr Kabila, who has ruled since 2001, is also constitutionally ineligible to stand for a third term. But Kabila has refused to rule out running again despite his ineligibility, while the fact that his mandate should have expired in 2016 suggests that the constitution could be reinterpreted to allow the long-time leader to stand once more.

If Kabila attempts to extend his 17-year rule, he risks undermining democracy and destabilising the country’s politics. Meanwhile, with an August 8 deadline to submit candidacies approaching, expect violent protests if Katumbi and Bemba are denied the chance to run.

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