Felix Tshisekedi gets backing of rival Vital Kamerhe ahead of Congo's December presidential 23 polls

Felix Tshisekedi, right, of Congo's Union for Democracy and Social Progress opposition party and Vital Kamerhe of Congo's Union for the Congolese Nation opposition party.

Union for the Congolese Nation (UNC) candidate Vital Kamerhe will support Felix Tshisekedi, leader of Congolese main opposition, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party for presidency on December 23.

The deal took place in a Nairobi on Friday November 23 evening while addressing a press conference.

Tshisekedi will now compete against President Joseph Kabila’s backed former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary of People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD) and businessman Martin Fayulu of Engagement for Citizenship and Development (ECiDé) party as Kamerhe becomes his running mate.

“I decide today to support Mr. Tshisekedi as the president of Congo on the December 23,” said Kamerhe at a joint press conference amid cheers from supporters.

“This is the winning ticket,” added Kamerhe.

The two had agreed on November 11   under the Lamuka coalition to support Fayulu in a rare moment of unity for Democratic Republic of Congo’s splintered opposition but later backed out.

“My brother Kamrehe and I will work together to ensure that peace is restored in Congo. It’s not just about being a president but bringing the country together,” said Tshisekedi, who called upon other opposition politicians to back him and form a formidable opposition. 

He said Kenya is a true example of true reconciliation of people and thanked Opposition leader Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta for that handshake initiative.

The backing of Tshisekedi by Kamerhe increases the opposition’s chances of winning the elections since recent polls placed Tshisekedi at number one with 36 per cent ahead of Shadary at 16 per cent.

The poll, jointly conducted by BERCI consulting, a Congolese organisation, and the Congo Research Group at New York University, put Shadary in third place and Fayulu second.

The two denied that forming another coalition will reduce their chances of removing President Kabila’s preferred candidate but said if elections will be free and fair, they will win.

“Not it’s not true, the opinion polls have proved that we are the winning side, we are now more stronger and so long as elections will be held in a free and fair manner, we are confident to win,” said the two, who promised to address issues of insecurity in the eastern and central part of Congo, reconcile the Congolese, fight impunity and corruption as their main priorities when they win.

The two also promised to hold a major political rally in Congo next Tuesday.

Kamerhe will now be the national director of elections as other regional directors will be announced later.