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The Democratic Republic of Congo’s electoral commission (Céni) has declared admissible the 24 candidates registered for the 20 December presidential election, according to a list published on Friday but still to be examined by the Constitutional Court.
The definitive list of candidates will be published on November 18, on the eve of the official opening of an electoral campaign that began de facto several weeks ago.
Among the provisional candidacies received by the Céni between 9 September and 8 October is that of the incumbent president, Félix Tshisekedi, who has been in power since January 2019 and is running for a new five-year term.
Opposing him, the opposition has lined up several heavyweights: Dr Denis Mukwege, winner of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on behalf of women who have been raped; Moïse Katumbi, the wealthy businessman and former governor of Katanga (south-east); Martin Fayulu, the unsuccessful candidate in the 2018 presidential election, which he claims to have won.
There is also MP Delly Sesanga and former prime ministers Adolphe Muzito and Augustin Matata Ponyo, the latter facing prosecution for alleged misappropriation of public funds.
The question will be whether the fragmented opposition manages to agree on a common candidacy, which seems essential if it is to win an election that will be contested in a single round.
Of the 24 registered candidates, only one is a woman, Marie-Josée Ifoku Mputa, already a candidate in the December 2018 presidential election, for which the Céni registered 21 candidates.
The presidential election will be coupled with legislative, provincial and communal elections, for which thousands of candidatures have been registered.
The political climate has been tense for several months, with opposition parties denouncing a narrowing of democratic space and expressing the conviction that the elections will be marred by fraud.
Despite the assurances of the authorities, many Congolese, having experienced this at previous elections, still have doubts about the organisation of the vote in time and are worried that there will be a “landslide”.