DRC opposition party rejects deal on unity candidate

2018-11-12 21:29
Felix Tshisekedi (Picture: AFP)

Felix Tshisekedi (Picture: AFP)

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Democratic Republic of Congo's main opposition party on Monday rejected a deal agreed by its leader just a day earlier to select a single opposition candidate for upcoming presidential elections.

After hundreds of activists protested, Jean-Marc Kabund, secretary general of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), announced "the grassroots want (party leader) Felix Tshisekedi to withdraw" from the deal, and set a 48-hour deadline for him to do so.

Seven opposition leaders, meeting in Geneva on Sunday, picked the little-known Martin Fayulu as their joint candidate for the December 23 ballot to succeed President Joseph Kabila, who has been in power for 18 years.

The choice of Fayulu, a 61-year-old former oil executive, was a surprise as Tshisekedi, who heads the UDPS - for years the country's main opposition party - had widely been seen as the front-runner.

Kabund said UDPS activists opposed the Geneva agreement as "they consider him (Tshisekedi) to be the candidate for the presidency."

Fayulu will run at the head of a new opposition coalition called "Lamuka" - which means "wake up" in both Lingala and Swahili.

He will stand against Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, a hardliner and former interior minister backed by Kabila.

The vote is crucial for the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The vast, mineral-rich country has never experienced a peaceful transition of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

Tshisekedi, who has a home in Belgium, has not yet returned to Kinshasa.

Read more on:    felix tshisekedi  |  drc  |  central africa  |  drc 2018 elections

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