Congo-Kinshasa: Congolese Opposition Leader Katumbi Returns to DRC

Opposition leader Moïse Katumbi in Lubumbashi

After three years of political exile, the former governor of Katanga province in the Democratic Republic of Congo and a former presidential candidate, Moise Katumbi, has returned home to Lubumbashi in the south of the country.

"Truth is like oil you want to drown. It always ends up triumphing," Katumbi told the crowds waiting for him after he had touched down on Congolese soil.

'Man of peace'

One supporter, Désiré Kafakula, from the Lamuka coalition, an opposition group that Katumbi is the head coordinator of, said he had arrived at seven in the morning at the airport, wearing white from head to toe.

"Everyone is in white, it's simply to show that we want peace and not war. Katumbi is a man of peace, he had even forgave those who offended him," he told RFI.

Katumbi, a successful businessman who returned on his private jet, was prevented from running in the last presidential election in 2018. He had accused the previous regime under President Joseph Kabila of trying to poison him, which the government denied.

After fleeing the country, he was sentenced to three years in prison for real estate fraud, charges he believes were politically motivated.

According to reports, thousands of people wearing white came to the airport to greet their returned son, and other lined the streets towards the centre of the city in an effort to see him.

Political future?

Katumbi is just one of a number of political opposition leaders who have returned to the DRC since official results indicated that opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi won the election.

The Lubumbashi leader has returned after his prison sentence was annulled. He had tried to return last August to present his credentials for president but was prevented from becoming a candidate.

He has already announced that he is not a supporter of President Tshishekedi, and had supported Martin Fayulu, who was Tshisekedi's principal opponent in the election.

"Felix Tshisekedi wasn't elected by the Congolese people. One cannot betray the population. We're in parliament because we decided that he can't abandon the people, we can't abandon the institutions," said Fayulu, adding that he was the elected president of DRC.

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