DRC tycoon seeks permission to return to contest key election

2018-07-31 10:20
Moise Katumbi (File, AFP)

Moise Katumbi (File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Multimillionaire and political heavyweight Moise Katumbi on Monday said he had sought permission to return to Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) this week to contest presidential elections in one of Africa's most volatile countries.

Katumbi said in a phone interview with AFP that he was in Johannesburg and had written to the civil aviation authorities requesting permission for his private jet to land on Friday in Lubumbashi, capital of Katanga province.

* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER 

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook

Katumbi, 53, a former governor of the mineral-rich province, has been living in self-imposed exile in Belgium since May 2016 after falling out with President Joseph Kabila.

He has vowed to return for the long overdue December 23 election despite being handed a three-year jail term in a case of alleged property fraud.

He is also on trial for supposedly hiring mercenaries and for possessing an Italian passport - Congolese law does not allow double nationality.

Katumbi's lawyer Eric Dupond-Moretti said in Paris last week that said the ongoing cases were a "judicial farce," adding: "If he is arrested, the decision will be strictly arbitrary."

'Successor'

Kabila, a former soldier, has been in power since 2001, when he took over from his assassinated father.

Presiding over a government widely criticised as corrupt and incompetent, he was constitutionally due to quit office in December 2016 at the end of his second elected mandate.

But he has remained in power until a successor is elected, provoking street protests that have been bloodily repressed.

Kabila has vowed to respect the constitution but so far not spelt out if he will contest the election, nor yet designated a successor.

However, government members and members of his party said on Monday that he had asked allies to suggest a potential candidate.

"He wants every (pro-Kabila political) group to put forward four names in the next 48 hours so that he can choose the candidate for the Common Front for Congo (FCC)," said a minister, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The FCC - a "grand political electoral coalition" - was created by the cabinet earlier this year "to provide support for a single candidate" for the elections. It has named Kabila as its "moral authority."

Both Katumbi, born to a Greek businessman father and a Congolese mother, and Kabila hail from Katanga, a sprawling region the size of Spain, and were once allies.

The sprawling province is a microcosm of some of the DRC's problems - an explosive mix of political rivalry intertwined with personal economic interests.

Katumbi's assets include the Congolese football club TP Mazembe which has won the CAF Champions League.

Another potential rival to Kabila is former warlord and ex-vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba, 55, who in June was acquitted of war-crimes charges in The Hague.

He has vowed to return to Kinshasa on Wednesday to file his election bid. Candidates must physically be in the country to lodge their applications.

His party previously said that he would arrive in Gemena, a town in his stronghold of the northwest, on Tuesday. But on Monday it said he had not had flight authorisation for landing there.

Read more on:    joseph ­kabila  |  jean-pierre bemba  |  moise katumbi  |  drc  |  central africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.