Felix Tshisekedi files for DR Congo presidential election Felix Tshisekedi

KINSHASA. — Felix Tshisekedi, a prominent opposition leader in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, submitted on Tuesday his candidacy for the presidential election scheduled for December.

Tshisekedi, president of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), filed for his candidacy accompanied by thousands of his supporters from his residence in Kinshasa.

On the same day, other opposition candidates also submitted their candidacy, while the negotiations for a common candidate are still stalled within the opposition.

Police used tear gas to disperse supporters in Limete, a stronghold of the UDPS, and also near the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission in the center of the city.

Tshisekedi is among the three main opposition candidates who have already submitted their presidential candidacy. Before him, Jean-Pierre Bemba, former vice-president recently acquitted and released by the International Criminal Court (ICC), and Vital Kamerhe, former president of the National Assembly, also appeared at the Independent National Electoral Commission.

The suspense remained in the camp of President Joseph Kabila who could no longer seek a new mandate after assuming two terms, according to the Constitution. On Tuesday afternoon, Kabila gathered all the leaders of his coalition to discuss on a likely candidate to replace him.

After this meeting closed late in the evening, no name had been announced. The official announcement was scheduled for early yesterday morning, according to government spokesman Lambert Mende.

Political tension was high across the country, especially in Kinshasa following the silence of President Kabila on the suspicions of him trying to seek a third term. After his second and last term officially expired at the end of 2016, Kabila has repeatedly promised that he will respect the constitution.

The Democratic Republic of Congo was braced yesterday for President Kabila to announce either a successor, or his own candidacy for elections in breach of a two-term limit.

By end of day yesterday, President Kabila announced through his spokesperson that he would not contest the December elections.

A church-backed group called the Lay Co-ordination Committee (CLC) and a pro-democracy group, Lucha, had called for protests across the country if President Kabila said he would seek a third mandate.

In central Africa, Angola is the only country where in 2016 a ruling president, Jose Eduardo do Santos, chose a successor, enabling a peaceful transfer of power after 38-years.

Presidential Kabila’s ruling coalition, the Common Front for Congo (FCC), had officially until 15:30 GMT to submit the name of their candidate to the electoral commission.

Eight candidates including at least three from the opposition have already submitted their names.

On Tuesday, members of the FCC were summoned to President Kabila’s farm in Kingakati, outside Kinshasa, to discuss potential candidates for the December 23 vote.

Among the possible contenders are former prime minister Augustin Matata Ponyo, 54; chief of staff to the president Nehemie Mwilanya Wilonga, 50; and speaker of the National Assembly Aubin Minaku, 53. – Xinhua/AFP/HR

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