DRC opposition party set to choose its champion

2018-03-31 13:16
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The Democratic Republic of Congo's main opposition party met on Friday for a two-day congress to choose a new leader who is also likely to be its candidate in upcoming presidential elections.

Frontrunner among the four candidates vying for the leadership of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) is Felix Tshisekedi, the son of the party's founder, former premier Etienne Tshisekedi, who died in Brussels in February last year.

Elections for DRC's head of state are due to take place on December 23 after two postponements that have stoked fears the sprawling, volatile state could spiral into war.

President Joseph Kabila has been in power since 2001 and should have stepped down at the end of 2016 after he reached his two-term constitutional limit.

He is staying on under a constitutional clause that empowers the president to remain in office so long as his or her successor has not been elected.

Escalating tension over Kabila's future has fed protests that have met with a crackdown that has claimed dozens of lives.

According to an opinion poll released on Friday, 69% of the population do not trust the electoral commission to stage fair elections and 80% have a negative view of Kabila.

Sixty-six percent would vote for an opposition candidate, while Kabila would get only six percent if he sought to run again.

Among opposition candidates, the most popular was Moise Katumbi, a wealthy businessman and former governor of Katanga province, who was supported by 24% of those who gave an opinion.

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He was followed by Tshisekedi with 13%.

Katumbi, who lives in exile, formally launched his presidential campaign on March 12, unveiling a political party called Together for Change.

The survey, conducted by phone among a thousand people in 26 provinces, was organised by BERCI - the Bureau d'Etudes, de Recherches et de Consulting International - and the Congo Research Group (CRG) at New York University.

The UDPS was set up in 1982 at the height of the dictatorship of former president Joseph-Desire Mobutu. It has been in opposition ever since, and experienced numerous internal divisions.

Read more on:    drc  |  central africa

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