With the announcement that exiled politician Moïse Katumbi will return to the Democratic Republic of Congo to challenge President Joseph Kabila for office, comes a request for his security once he arrives.
Katumbi’s “Together for Change” coalition party announced on Monday that their candidate will arrive on Friday at the airport in Lubumbashi, the country’s second-largest city in the far southeast near the Zambian border. In a letter sent from Kinshasa, they appealed to civil and military authorities to assure the security of his delegation.
The firm date puts to rest months of speculation about Katumbi’s return, which has to come before an August 8 deadline for candidates to register ahead of the long-delayed presidential election, scheduled for December 23. That date comes two years after Kabila was supposed to leave office after his constitutionally determined second term, a delay that touched off violent political and ethnic crisis across the central African nation.
Katumbi has faced a number of barriers in mounting his challenge, including whether or not he remains a Congolese citizen eligible to run for office. Katumbi held Italian citizenship from 2000 to 2017, with the Congolese government arguing that he relinquished his right to run and refusing to issue a passport.
Katumbi has lived in exile since the Kabila administration convicted him in absentia to three years in prison on real estate fraud – a charge Katumbi denies as politically motivated. His campaign also has denied new accusations that he planned to overthrow the Kabila regime by force.
Katumbi will return with members of his team including Olivier Kamitatu, Salomon Idi Kalonda and Francis Kalombo, according to a letter issued to aviation authorities.
Image: Katumbi file