By Paul Ndiho
Tensions are high ahead of general elections scheduled to be held in the Democratic Republic of Congo on December 23rd, 2018 to determine a successor to incumbent President Joseph Kabila who has been in power since January 2001.
President Joseph Kabila gathered his ministers and party officials last week at his farm in Kingakati, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), at the start of the presidential campaign.
President Kabila announced in August that he’d abide by the constitution and step aside opening the door to the Central African nation’s first democratic transfer of power.
His announcement calmed tensions that had seen dozens of anti-Kabila demonstrators killed by security forces since he refused to step down when his constitutional mandate expired in December 2016.
President Joseph Kabila is backing Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary as the candidate of the Common Front for Congo (FCC), a coalition of ruling parties. Unveiling his platform ahead of a landmark election in the next month, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary set out a $86 billion five-year development plan.
“I am convinced that the work of rebuilding the Congolese State, initiated by the President of the Republic, His Excellency Joseph Kabila Kabange, and which marks the way forward for us for an emerging Congo, will indeed remain the source of inspiration for all my political commitment.”
Analysts say this election is critical for the future of DR Congo, a mineral-rich country that has never known a peaceful transition of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.
In a bid to present a combined front against President Joseph Kabila’s preferred successor for elections next month, seven opposition leaders earlier this month picked a joint presidential candidate – businessman and lawmaker Martin Fayulu.
He drove through the streets of Kinshasa where thousands of supporters marched to welcome him back and show their support for the coalition.
“The state of mind is that we must at all costs wrestle democratic alternative, that is to say, to achieve this, we need elections. But what type of elections. Our objective is to achieve credible elections, that is elections with paper ballots without voting machines, with a clear and clean electoral list so that the Congolese tomorrow, when they have voted, that the results be per their vote.”
Police used tear gas briefly to disperse crowds that had overtaken the main road from the airport.
“We came to welcome our president so why did the police fire tear gas. We don’t want chaos. Our candidate has come home, and we want to be with him, they should leave us alone.”
“Tear gas does not scare us. We are going to show the traitors that Martin Fayulu is the real opposition candidate. We will show this to the world, and there will be a massive vote for him. The Congolese will vote for Fayulu as the common candidate.”
For a brief moment, it looked as if Congo’s splintered opposition was united. But those hopes were short-lived as the most prominent opposition party leader, Felix Tshisekedi, who had initially agreed to Fayulu as the joint candidate, later withdrew his support along with UNC party leader Vital Kamerhe. The UDPS is the oldest and biggest opposition party in the DRC.
It was co-founded in 1982 by Tshisekedi’s famous father, Felix Tshisekedi, who died in February 2017.
In March this year, Tshisekedi was elected party leader and the UDPS’s election candidate by 90 percent of votes cast. According to DRC’s constitution, the President is elected in by plurality vote in one round.
According to the DRC Constitution, the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is elected by plurality vote in one round.