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Pre-electoral throat clearing

There’s nothing Congolese politicians enjoy quite as much as elections. So much, in fact, that they have decided to begin their pre-campaign. Vital Kamerhe, former head of the national assembly, announced his candidacy in late July; Etienne Tshisekedi, the veteran head of the UDPS, declared on August 18th he would run (he has already announced in April); and now a new opposition coalition has been formed in Kinshasa, the Sacred Union for the Alternance (USA).

Yes, the USA is going up against Joseph Kabila.

It’s a strange coalition, whose name invokes the Sacred Union of the Opposition, a coalition formed in 1991 to challenge Mobutu’s regime, as well as the alternance of power they would like to see, i.e. Kabila leaving. (As well as the home of the free, brave, etc.)

Much like that Sacred Union, this one is composed of some strange bedfellows. Their spokesperson (or the one who talks to the press) seems to be Jean-Pierre Lisanga Bonganga, the head of the Christian Democratic Convention (CCD) party, is one of the more radical members of the opposition; Ernest Wamba dia Wamba is a former president of the RCD rebellion and an ardent former opponent to Mobutu; Anzuluni Bembe is a former ally of Mobutu and vice-president of his parliament; Christian Badibangi was a member of Tshisekedi’s brief government, while Médard Lwakabwanga was a minister for Mobutu. What a mix.

Maybe I shouldn’t be going on so long about the USA. After all, the parties they represent only have a total of 3 seats in a national assembly of 500 MPs.

But it serves to show that the pre-electoral wrangling and positioning has begun. The next big fight will be over who gets to nominate one of the 3 opposition representatives to the electoral body, which also has 4 positions named by the ruling coalition. The UDPS and the RCD have both claimed a position, and I’m sure the MLC, the largest opposition party by far, will want at least one position.

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