Congo ruling coalition backs Tshisekedi for December vote

  • World
  • Sunday, 01 Oct 2023

FILE PHOTO: Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo arrives to address the 78th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City, U.S., September 20, 2023. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo's President Felix Antoine Tshisekedi was officially nominated on Sunday as candidate for the Dec. 20 presidential election by his ruling political coalition the Sacred Union.

Tshisekedi is seeking a second term in the vast nation, which is the world's top cobalt supplier and No. 3 copper producer, after winning a disputed first term in a 2018 vote.

His rule has been mired by economic hardship, the COVID-19 pandemic, Ebola outbreaks and persistent insecurity, particularly in the east where the resurgent M23 rebel group seized swathes of territory leading to a breakdown of relations with neighbouring Rwanda.

On Sunday, a congress of the Sacred Union coalition that includes political heavyweights such as Defence Minister Jean Pierre Bemba and Economy Minister Vital Kamerhe, picked Tshisekedi unanimously.

"Felix Tshisekedi has been nominated as candidate for President of the Republic on behalf of the nation's Sacred Union," Andre Mbata, a spokesperson for Tshisekedi's party, said to the cheers of a crowd gathered in a marquee at the People's Palace in Kinshasa.

Tshisekedi, the son of Congo's beloved long-term opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, promised to root out corruption and authoritarianism and has rejected accusations by rights groups and critics that he has fallen short on his promises.

One of his main rivals, opposition leader Martin Fayulu, who lost to Tshisekedi in 2018, confirmed on Saturday that he will run in the election after previously threatening to boycott it in protest over alleged fraud linked to the voter registration.

(Reporting by Ange Kasongo; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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