Are Félix Tshisekedi’s official and unofficial opponents feeling the pressure?
The Commission Électorale Nationale Indépendante (Ceni) has just set 20 December 2023 as the date for the next general elections and, even though it is still possible that the timetable will change again, everyone is trying to position themselves.
This is the case for both the Parti du Peuple pour la Reconstruction et la Démocratie (PPRD), led by former president Joseph Kabila, and Ensemble pour la République, Moïse Katumbi’s political formation.
These two parties have taken a step towards reconciliation and are preparing to hold important meetings at the end of the year.
The coming months will be decisive.
“Over the last two years, many people have left the party, including members of parliament and party leaders,” says a senior member of Ensemble.
“We now have to look at what has worked and what hasn’t.” In December, a meeting will be held to decide “whether or not to hold a congress”.
Established in late December 2019 and made up of several parties and political groupings that had initially supported Katumbi during his years of opposing Kabila, Ensemble has already had several defections, the most notable of which is Muhindo Nzangi, the current minister of higher education and university, who said he would support Tshisekedi’s re-election bid.
Christophe Lutundula, the current deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister, has also left the Katumbi camp and voiced his support for the outgoing president’s second term.
Furthermore, he has been very outspoken against Rwanda ever since hostilities resumed in the east.
Katumbi is still officially part of the Union Sacrée, the heterogeneous coalition that formed around the head of state following his break with Kabila.
However, he is now in trouble with Tshisekedi and has accused the justice system of having been manipulated into siding with Pascal Beveraggi over him, regarding control of the company MCK.
According to the Katumbi camp, Peter Kazadi, a close advisor to the head of state, is the mastermind behind this, although the latter denies these accusations.
Will this break in relations be made official during the upcoming meeting? “We will review our participation within the Union Sacrée and define the future in light of the current issues,” says a person close to the former governor of Katanga.
Although the situation is a little different at the PPRD, no more progress has been made.
First announced for June, then December, the congress meant to “constitute the beginning of a renewal” did not take place in the end.
“It has been postponed until next year,” a source within the entourage of Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, the PPRD’s permanent secretary, told us. “Our objectives do not coincide with holding a congress.”
However, it could have been an opportunity to learn lessons, almost four years after the 2018 presidential election defeat.
An internal source made sure to specify that it was supposed to be a “mini-congress”, during which the party’s functioning under Ramazani Shadary’s leadership would have been reviewed, that an assessment of the Tshisekedi presidency would have been drawn up and that the event would have probably taken place in Lubumbashi.
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So why was it postponed? One of our interviewees explains the main reasons why it was not held.
“Two camps are clashing,” he says. “On the one hand, there is that of Ramazani Shadary, who feels that holding a congress that leads to a change in the [leadership] team is inappropriate. On the other hand, there are the permanent secretary’s detractors, who believe that Shadary should leave.”
“Shadary does want a congress, but next year,” continues our source within his entourage. “He wants to save time and does not think it is necessary to change the party’s leadership now. He believes that the priority in 2023 is to prepare for the elections.”
But if the congress does not take place, when will the party decide on its strategy for the elections? What alliances will it forge? There are many questions and, one way or another, the PPRD will have to find a way to answer them.
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