KINSHASA (Reuters) - Moise Katumbi, a prominent opposition leader in Democratic Republic of Congo, said on Wednesday he would run in November’s presidential election when incumbent Joseph Kabila is due to step down in accordance with the constitution.
Kabila’s opponents say he is trying to cling to power beyond the end of his mandate and Katumbi’s declaration could heighten political tension. More than 40 people were killed in protests over constitutional term limits in January 2015.
“I accept with humility this heavy responsibility,” Katumbi said in a statement on his official Twitter account, referring to his nomination for the presidency by three opposition coalitions in recent weeks.
The election looks unlikely to be held on time as the government has cited logistical and budgetary obstacles. The country’s election commission says that updating voter rolls will take about 16 months.
The announcement by Katumbi, a multi-millionaire and former governor of Congo’s copper mining region, had been expected for months but was delayed as he tried to win support from across the spectrum of a fractious opposition.
Katumbi governed the Katanga region from 2007 until last September when he quit Kabila’s party, accusing it of plotting to keep the president in power beyond the constitutional two-term limit. Kabila has been in power since 2001.
Reporting by Aaron Ross and Kenny Katombe; Writing by Marine Pennetier; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Mark Heinrich