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Tuesday, 14 November 2023 11:45

DR Congo opposition leaders hold talks in South Africa.

Staff Reporter.

Envoys of DR Congo's top opposition leaders arrived in South Africa on Monday to discuss coordinating ahead of an upcoming election in the central African country, officials said.

President Felix Tshisekedi, the incumbent, is running for a second term in the December 20 poll.

Many analysts view the president as likely to win the vote, given that the Democratic Republic of Congo's political opposition is split between several rivals.

On Monday, envoys representing five major opposition politicians -- who are all contesting the upcoming election -- arrived in South Africa's administrative capital Pretoria for talks.

They included envoys of Moise Katumbi, a wealthy business and former governor of ex-Katanga province; ex-presidential candidate Martin Fayulu; former prime minister Augustin Matata Ponyo; Delly Sesanga, an MP; and the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege.

"A joint candidacy would be desirable to avoid dispersing the opposition's votes," said one participant in the talks, who declined to be named.

But another participant, who also requested anonymity, said the talks were focused on finding a "common mechanism to avoid fraud" in the election.

"We're not shying away from the debate on a common candidacy, but what we need above all is the truth at the ballot box," he said.

The talks in Pretoria may last until Thursday, and have been organised under the aegis of South African NGO In Transformation Initiative (ITI).

"They want to start a process to talk and see how they can collaborate," said Ivor Jenkins, ITI's managing director.

"The main focus is how can the DRC become a stronger democracy, with a multi-party environment, to have free and fair elections."

Twenty-six candidates in total are running for the DRC's presidential election, which is being held at the same time as parliamentary, provincial and municipal polls.

Of the candidates who met in Pretoria, Katumbi, Fayulu, Ponyo and Sesanga, are seasoned politicians.

Denis Mukwege, a surgical gynaecologist who won the Nobel Prize for his efforts to end sexual violence, who has no formal political experience, announced his candidacy in October.