DR Congo President Joseph Kabila’s chosen candidate to run in upcoming presidential elections will be announced on Wednesday, his spokesman revealed, on the eve of a key campaign deadline.
A minister told AFP; Members of a pro-Kabila alliance known as the Common Front for Congo (FCC) were called to the presidential residence on the outskirts of Kinshasa on Tuesday evening for an “important meeting.”
The chosen candidate “will be known early in the morning,” Kabila’s spokesman Lambert Mende told AFP after the talks.
On Tuesday’s meeting at Kabila’s family farm in Kingakati, outside the capital Kinshasa, the president addressed those present without discussing his own political future, participants said.
Kabila, in power since 2001, should have stepped down at the end of 2016 when his constitutional two-term limit expired, but has so far refused to say if will seek to run again.
Some of his opponents suspect that Kabila will still attempt to cling to power and seek a third term, despite the constitutional limit.
The uncertainty has ratcheted up political tensions, leading to anti-Kabila protests that have been bloodily repressed.
Names in the rumour mill include former prime minister Augustin Matata Ponyo; Kabila’s chief of staff, Nehemie Mwilanya Wilondja; and the president of the National Assembly, Aubin Minaku.
Ahead of Tuesday’s pro-Kabila alliance meeting, a source close to Kabila, said: “It’s not a secret any more — it’s about naming a candidate for our presidential platform.”
Candidates have until 1530 GMT Wednesday to file their bid for the December 23 poll — a twice-delayed ballot seen as crucial for the future of the notoriously unstable country.
A country of some 80 million people, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has never known a peaceful transition of power since it gained independence in 1960.
Kabila, 47, took over from his father, Laurent-Desire Kabila, who was assassinated by a bodyguard.
His tenure over the vast mineral-rich country has been marked by a reputation for corruption, inequality and unrest.