DR Congo: Opposition party confirms Presidential candidate

web_photo_Moise_Katumbi_05052016

DR Congo, 5 May 2016 - A former regional governor, Moise Katumbi,accepted an opposition coalition's nomination as its candidate to run against President Joseph Kabila.

KINSHASA, DR CONGO - A former regional governor, Moise Katumbi, on Wednesday accepted an opposition coalition&39;s nomination as its candidate to run against Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila in elections due before the end of the year.

"Three Congolese opposition movements... have done me the honour of choosing me as their candidate in the next presidential election," Katumbi said on Twitter, adding: "I accept this heavy responsibility with humility."

Democratic Republic of Congo authorities are under pressure from the international community to hold the polls as planned in November before Kabila&39;s second -- and constitutionally last -- mandate ends.

Katumbi, who went over to the opposition in September 2015 after resigning as governor and quitting the president&39;s party, is a major figure in the country&39;s politics.

Popular and charismatic, the 51-year-old wealthy businessman is also head of the prestigious Tout-Puissant Mazembe football club, three-time winner of the African Champions League.

Katumbi&39;s acceptance came on the same day that the country&39;s justice minister said he had ordered an investigation into his alleged use of foreign mercenaries. The opposition coalition announced him as their choice of candidate on Sunday.

Katumbi earlier Wednesday dismissed the mercenary allegations as a "grotesque lie".

Announcing that he would accept the nomination, he added: "Such low manoeuvres do not hinder my peaceful struggle. I will be the candidate of the rule of law."

The country has been in crisis since Kabila&39;s re-election in late 2011 in polls marred by irregularities and massive fraud. His second term expires in December and the constitution bars him from standing again.

Last month police in the southeast of the country fired tear gas to break up a demonstration by 5,000 people in the latest unrest triggered by fears that Kabila plans to extend his rule into a third term.

Katumbi, a former regional governor in southeastern Katanga, has called for "a credible presidential election to be held in November 2016, which will end (Kabila&39;s) second term in strict respect of the constitution."

Kabila assumed power after his father, president Laurent Kabila, was assassinated in 2001.

He took up his first elected term in 2006, under a new UN-supervised constitution which provided for two five-year mandates in the vast nation of some 81 million people.