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DRC elections: Will Nobel Laureate Denis Mukwege run?

By Romain Gras, Stanis Bujakera Tshiamala

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Posted on August 4, 2023 08:45

Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege in Paris on 13 December 2022. (Vincent Fournier for JA/TAR)
Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege in Paris on 13 December 2022. (Vincent Fournier for JA/TAR)

Mukwege holds talks with prominent figures as his new political grouping submits a ‘referenced candidate’ for the December legislative elections.

With one month until candidate registration opens for DRC’s 20 December presidential election, rumours are swirling about Nobel laureate and renowned human rights surgeon Denis Mukwege’s plans.

Some in Mukwege’s circle insist his mind is made up to run, but others believe a presidential bid could damage his reputation.

Publicly, Mukwege has been vague, saying he would “consider options” if people organised support.

Yet, recent moves suggest Mukwege is laying the groundwork for his potential candidacy.

Gathering of allies

He has appointed ex-opposition leader Albert Moleka as adviser and relies on supporters like pastor Roger Puati, who heads the newly formed Alliance des Congolais pour la Refondation de la Nation (ACRN) – a discreet pro-Mukwege political group.

Though not directly involved in ACRN management, Mukwege has met with some of its members.

The alliance’s statutes support a “referenced candidate”, believed to be Mukwege, and ACRN has submitted legislative candidates for 2023.

Building a foundation

Meanwhile, Mukwege continues holding talks with prominent figures, recently meeting MP Claudel Lubaya, national monitoring council head Joseph Olenghankoy and opposition leader Moïse Katumbi.

Some believe Mukwege’s structures are too weak to carry weight. But member of parliament Ados Ndombasi is considering joining his movement.

It remains uncertain if Mukwege will ultimately run.

With DRC’s single-round presidential election, he would need to build major unity behind him to challenge incumbent Felix Tshisekedi. Recent manoeuvres show Mukwege is laying political groundwork amid the speculation.

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