- Decision ends months of speculation about plans for vote
- President Joseph Kabila has been in power in DRC since 2001
Democratic Republic of Congo opposition leader Moise Katumbi announced he’ll run for president in elections scheduled for November.
The announcement ends months of speculation since the former governor of the copper-rich Katanga province resigned from the ruling party in September. “I accept with humility this great responsibility,” Katumbi said in an e-mailed statement Wednesday. Congo is Africa’s biggest copper producer and the world’s largest source of cobalt.
Katumbi is owner of TP Mazembe, one of Africa’s most successful football clubs, and a high-profile political figure in Congo. Elections are slated for November but delays to a voter registration process and a political dialog called by the president could postpone the poll. Opposition parties say President Joseph Kabila is intentionally blocking election preparations to hold on to power.
At least three opposition coalitions have thrown their support behind Katumbi, who is trying to unite other opposition parties to present him as a single candidate to improve the chances of a change in power.
The government amended the constitution in 2011 to abolish second-round voting for presidential elections, a move that analysts say would favor the incumbent party by splitting the opposition vote.
Kabila, in power since 2001, won elections in 2006 and 2011. He is barred from running again by the constitution, and he has yet to publicly confirm he will step down.