DR Congo opposition party rejects deal on unity candidate

Monday November 12 2018

DR Congo joint opposition presidential

DR Congo joint opposition presidential candidate Martin Fayulu attends a press conference following his designation on November 11, 2018 in Geneva. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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DR Congo's main opposition party on Monday rejected a deal agreed by its leader just a day earlier to select a single opposition candidate for upcoming presidential elections.

After hundreds of activists protested, Mr Jean-Marc Kabund, the secretary general of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), announced "the grassroots want (party leader) Felix Tshisekedi to withdraw" from the deal, and set a 48-hour deadline for him to do so.

Seven opposition leaders, meeting in Geneva on Sunday, picked the little-known Martin Fayulu as their joint candidate for the December 23 ballot to succeed President Joseph Kabila, who has been in power for 18 years.

A surprise

The choice of Mr Fayulu, a 61-year-old former oil executive, was a surprise as Mr Tshisekedi, who heads the UDPS -- for years the country's main opposition party -- had widely been seen as the front-runner.

Mr Kabund said UDPS activists opposed the Geneva agreement as "they consider him (Tshisekedi) to be the candidate for the presidency."


Mr Fayulu will run at the head of a new opposition coalition called Lamuka -- which means "wake up" in both Lingala and Swahili.

Peaceful transition

He will stand against Mr Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, a hardliner and former interior minister backed by President Kabila.

The vote is crucial for the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has never experienced a peaceful transition of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

Mr Tshisekedi, who has a home in Belgium, has not yet returned to Kinshasa.