Congo Opposition Chooses Katumbi as Presidential Candidateby
Congo scheduled to hold presidential elections in November
Katumbi seen as powerful challenger to incumbent president
A leading opposition group in the Democratic Republic of Congo named Moise Katumbi, a former provincial governor, as its candidate for president in elections scheduled for November.
The so-called G7 announced Katumbi’s candidacy after a meeting of the party’s political bureau in the capital, Kinshasa, on Wednesday. Katumbi wasn’t immediately available when Bloomberg called him seeking comment.
“The G7 voted unanimously for Moise Katumbi to be its candidate for president,” Olivier Kamitatu, a leader of the G7, said in a post on his Twitter account.
Katumbi, the former governor of the copper-rich Katanga province, resigned from the ruling People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy in September in a written statement in which he criticized alleged efforts by the government to bypass the constitution and delay elections. Since then, he has met repeatedly with Congolese opposition leaders and made frequent public calls for the government to hold the vote on time. He’s yet to join a new political party or confirm his candidacy in the elections. The owner of TP Mazembe, one of Africa’s most successful football clubs, Katumbi is a popular figure in Congo and seen as a powerful potential challenger to President Joseph Kabila.
In November, Katumbi said he supported the selection of a single opposition candidate to stop Kabila from extending his 15-year rule of Africa’s biggest copper producer. Having received the endorsement from the G7, he may lead negotiations with other opposition leaders including Felix Tshisekedi of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress and Vital Kamerhe of the Union for Congolese Nation to select a single opposition leader.
The G7 includes seven former members of the Presidential Majority, who where expelled from the ruling coalition in September after publicly criticizing what they said were efforts by Kabila to hold on to power.