Supporters of President Felix Tshisekedi defied rain on a Sunday (Nov. 19) to attend a rally in Kinshasa, marking the launch of his campaign for the December 20 elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Nicknamed ‘Fatshi’ by locals, Tshisekedi faces competition from 25 presidential candidates. Despite the weather, his supporters showed unwavering confidence, anticipating a second term for him.
Blanchard, a supporter, expressed certainty about Tshisekedi’s re-election, stating, “For us, he’s already got a second term, that’s for sure. In 2024, Fatshi will have a second term, that’s for sure.”
Alphonsive, another fervent supporter of the ruling UDPS party, echoed the sentiment, affirming, “I’ve come to give him a standing ovation, rain or shine, there’s only Felix Tshisekedi, no one else.”
Tshisekedi has emphasized a return to calm in the conflict-ridden eastern region, focusing on improving services, the economy, infrastructure development, and upholding freedoms of speech and the press as key priorities.
However, opposition leaders criticize his track record, labeling it as disastrous.
The forthcoming general elections on December 20 will see 44 million registered voters participating. The Electoral Commission faces significant logistical challenges in organizing the voting process across the vast 2.3 million square kilometers of the country due to limited infrastructure.
Political analyst Tresor Kibangula raised concerns about the technical feasibility despite the political will to adhere to the electoral calendar.
The ongoing conflict in the eastern part of the country, particularly the Nord Kivu province, remains a concern as violence, fueled by groups like M23, poses threats to the voting process, especially if key areas like Goma are affected.
Despite the stakes and the mixed perceptions among voters, preparations are underway, with opposition figures like Martin Fayulu, Moise Katumbi, Denis Mukwege, and others vying against Tshisekedi. A coalition has been formed among some opposition groups, considering a unified candidate, but consensus remains elusive.
While some voters like Eunice, a 20-year-old, are eager to cast their ballots for the first time, others like Ezechiel, a 24-year-old, express disillusionment, citing concerns about potential fraud similar to the 2018 elections, which leads him to question the value of voting.