The quest for a replacement for Joseph Kabila as the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo has taken a new turn as the opposition chose one candidate to represent them during December polls.
Martin Fayulu was selected by opposition leaders in Geneva, Switzerland to stand against Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, Kabila’s choice.
The selection has been seen as a surprise and even controversial as Fayulu is seen more of a businessman rather than the leader of the opposition. Many have speculated why he was selected instead of veteran politicians such as Felix Tshisekedi and Vital Kamerhe, who will now rally behind Fayulu, together with Jean-Pierre Bemba and Moise Katumbi, who were barred from running.
Fayulu has however made a mark in the history of the DRC for being among the frontlines in demanding the resignation of Kabila, whose refusal to step down from the presidency in 2016 pushed the country in a political crisis.
The U.S. educated businessman and Member of Parliament had been arrested a number of times for his protests against Kabila’s government and had even been hit in the head by a rubber bullet. He got into the political scene in the 1990s after the ouster of President Mobutu Sese Seko and would become an MP in 2006.
The decision for the opposition to front a single candidate was inspired by the need to amass the votes that would be fragmented if they all ran on their own capacities.
Both presidential candidates have their duties cut out for them in leading the second largest country in Africa.
The DRC has not had a peaceful transition since independence and has faced civil strife intermittently since then. Aside from political turmoil, the country is also grappling with a series of Ebola outbreaks, with the most recent considered the worst for the country.
Both leaders will also have to deal with issues of corruption, impunity and inequality that has seen the resource-rich country ranked 156 out of 176 by Transparency International in 2016.
Of importance is to end the eruption of violence that has seen the death of thousands, the displacement of millions, sexual assault and attacks on activisits and opposition leaders.
Ahead of the December 23 polls, the electorate is dealing with issues of voting machines, which it claims would be used to rig the elections- something Fayulu also alleges.
Avec la démonstration ci-dessous du candidat président de la République Shekomba Okende, qui peut encore douter de la volonté manifeste de la @cenirdc de tricher avec la #Machineàvoter? Le peuple congolais ne laissera pas Mr @CNangaa commettre son forfait : PAS DE MACHINE A VOTER pic.twitter.com/lcdSeJqvPy
— Martin Fayulu (@MartinFayulu) November 8, 2018
Natives recently took to the streets to seek the withdrawal of the machines in one of the unprecedented marches allowed by the Mayor of Kinshasa.
The marches also sought the removal of over 100 million names off the voters’ roll as they had been registered without digital fingerprints.