Opposition leader Moise Katumbi officially kicked off his presidential campaign in Kisangani, marking the launch of his bid for the presidency of the Democratic Republic of Congo, scheduled for an election in a month’s time.
The 58-year-old entrepreneur and millionaire has pledged to combat corruption, generate employment opportunities, and revitalize the nation’s struggling economy. He has specifically criticized the performance of the incumbent President Felix Tshisekedi in the conflict-ridden eastern region, where the government has been grappling with insurgencies like the M23 rebels and various armed factions.
Katumbi has accused the current administration of enlisting foreign mercenaries instead of focusing on bolstering the salaries of the armed forces.
Addressing the rally in Kisangani, Katumbi stated, “The current government made assurances to you, but I guarantee these empty promises will not be repeated. Our priority will be to uplift the conditions of our defenders – the soldiers. We are committed to expelling all foreign forces from our country.”
Young attendees at the rally expressed their desire for change, dissatisfied with the status quo even five years after Tshisekedi assumed power following the controversial 2018 election, from which Katumbi was excluded.
“They pledged safety, but nothing changed. They promised jobs, but nothing materialized. They spoke of infrastructure development, yet we’ve seen no progress,” remarked Abdullah Simba, highlighting the disillusionment among the populace.
Katumbi’s campaign launch followed the commencement of the election campaigns by his key rivals, President Tshisekedi and opposition figure Martin Fayulu.
In 2018, Katumbi’s presidential aspirations were hindered when President Joseph Kabila’s government annulled his Congolese passport while he was abroad.
Though some critics question his eligibility due to allegations regarding his father’s citizenship, a recent dismissal of a lawsuit against Katumbi by a top court has upheld his candidacy.
Furthermore, various opposition candidates have withdrawn from the race, throwing their support behind Katumbi, indicating a growing consolidation of support within the opposition camp.