‘Once there’s peace in the DRC, the whole region will be peaceful’

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Hundreds of people from the Democratic Republic of Congo marched through the streets of Yeoville in January this year in support of the Congolese people who were killed during a New Year’s Eve demonstration against the government of Joseph Kabila. Picture: Tebogo Letsie/City Press
Hundreds of people from the Democratic Republic of Congo marched through the streets of Yeoville in January this year in support of the Congolese people who were killed during a New Year’s Eve demonstration against the government of Joseph Kabila. Picture: Tebogo Letsie/City Press

The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s main opposition leader, Moise Katumbi, has appealed to President Cyril Ramaphosa to take a keen interest in what’s happening in that country ahead of the December polls.

Katumbi, the leader of Ensemble, an opposition coalition, says the Southern African Development Community should ensure that the country holds its polls without any more delays.

The DRC government announced that polls would be held on December 23.

“Congolese people have suffered enough at the hands of the Joseph Kabila regime and now, it’s time for change,” he said in an interview.

“That’s why I am appealing to President Cyril Ramaphosa and the entire SADC region to help us have elections this year because once there’s peace in Congo, the whole region will be peaceful.”

Katumbi, the owner of top football club TP Mazembe – four-time African champions – paid a glowing tribute to the support South Africa had always offered DR Congo.

“South Africans are like our brothers and sisters. Even me, I once lived in South Africa while in exile. We share a similar history. While they had apartheid, we had a war so I always count on that great country for support and I have many friends there,” he added.

South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa told media company France 24 that there was enough assurance the DRC would hold elections this year.

“At SADC meetings, President Kabila said polls will be held on December 23. I haven’t seen anything which makes me doubt this,” he said.

Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki, said holding the election was an urgent matter.

“There is nothing more urgent than the holding of peaceful, free, transparent and inclusive elections at the end of this year…” he said via his Twitter account.

Katumbi was the main challenger. He had been living in exile in Belgium since 2016 after falling out with Kabila.

In absentia, he was sentenced to three years in jail over a real estate deal and faced many other charges including allegations of falsifying his passport and training mercenaries to topple Kabila.

But he denies all the charges, saying they are politically motivated.

“The biggest threat Kabila has got is me; that’s why he’ll do anything to stop my bid for presidency. But I am going back there to stand,” he says.

Elections were supposed to be held two years ago but were postponed.

While the constitution bars Kabila from standing after serving two terms, there are indications he may change the law and seek re-election.

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