Congolese opposition leader Fayulu confirms he will run for the presidency


  • World
  • Saturday, 30 Sep 2023

FILE PHOTO: Congolese opposition leader Martin Fayulu arrives to a rally in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, February 2, 2019. REUTERS/Kenny Katombe/File Photo

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo opposition leader Martin Fayulu confirmed on Saturday he will submit his candidacy for the December presidential election, where he is expected to be one of the main challengers to President Felix Tshisekedi.

The 66-year-old former Exxon Mobil executive came second to Tshisekedi in the contentious 2018 election.

His party, the Engagement for Citizenship and Development party, the African Union and Congo's influential Catholic Church questioned the outcome and Fayulu challenged the results in court.

Since then he has remained a vocal critic of Tshisekedi's presidency, threatening to boycott the Dec. 20 ballot in protest at alleged fraud linked to the voter list - a decision he now says would have played into his opponents hands.

"Many preferred for me to stay away, the better to cheat," he told a news conference in the capital Kinshasa, saying he would formally register his candidacy with the election commission on Oct. 4.

In an effort to allow greater scrutiny, his party is pushing for election results to be announced by polling station unlike the 2018 vote, which pre-election polls had predicted Fayulu would win by a landslide.

"We will continue to fight for transparency in the elections, and if we don't have transparency in the electoral register, we will have it in the monitoring of the elections," Fayulu said.

TSHISEKEDI EXPECTED TO RUN AGAIN

Tshisekedi, the son of Congo's beloved long-term opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, says he won the 2018 election fairly. He promised to root out corruption and authoritarianism and has rejected accusations by rights groups and critics that he has fallen short on this goal.

The ruling coalition is set to confirm Tshisekedi as its presidential candidate in a ceremony on Sunday.

Responding to criticism of the electoral list, Congo's electoral body in May hired international experts to conduct a review, and they declared it reliable. But the United States, the European Union and other Western powers have jointly expressed concern about the handling of the audit.

The lead-up to the polls has been tense for months, with several opposition candidates complaining of delays and issues with electoral process which they say disadvantage them.

In May, security forces fired tear gas and fought running battles in the streets with anti-government protesters demonstrating over alleged the irregularities in voter registration.

(Reporting by Ange Kasongo Additional reporting by Justin Makangara; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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